Across the UK there over half a million people suffering with dementia, now a $50m donation to a dementia charity could help find new ways to tackle the disease.
Bill Gates has donated $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), in the hope of finding new ways to tackle and take on the disease that affects around 850,000 across the UK.
DDF focuses on finding and developing new solution therapies to fight the disease that is expected to affect 1million people in the UK by 2025, changing millions of people’s lives every day.
Gates has invested the money privately to help change the lives of those affected, discovering new cures or medicines to slow the process down.
In a blog post, Bill Gates said: “I’ve invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund—a private fund working to diversify the clinical pipeline and identify new targets for treatment.
“I believe we are at a turning point in Alzheimer’s R&D. Now is the right time to accelerate that progress before the major costs hit countries that can’t afford high priced therapies and where exposure to the kind of budget implications of an Alzheimer’s epidemic could bankrupt health systems.”
Personal reasons drive the thought and plans behind the investment, after men in Gates’ family suffered with the disease he labelled as “Experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew”.
In order to effectively develop cures for Dementia and Alzheimers, Gates outline five areas that must be progressed in.
Among those reasons is better use of data, Gates believes pharmaceutical companies and labs should compile the data in common form in order to better understand how the disease progresses and how it is determined by factors such as gender and age or even genetics.
Technology could be used to do this such as AI, to collate and analyse data to make it easier for researchers to find patterns and develop new paths for treatment. The $50m investment could dramatically speed up this process by investing in AI technology.
Other areas include better understanding of how the disease unfolds earlier diagnosis, multiple approaches and more clinical trials.
DDF currently has government backing with the aim of finding a cure for dementia by 2025, but without enough funds this wouldn’t be possible.
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Significant amounts of money have been invested into other healthcare areas, to develop technology that helps spot signs of cancer, or a robot to carry out a surgeon’s job but now it is time to focus on mental well-being and develop a drug to help those suffering.
Gates said: “Most of the major pharmaceutical companies continue to pursue the amyloid and tau pathways. DDF complements their work by supporting start-ups as they explore less mainstream approaches to treating dementia.”
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is on board with Gates’ investment outlining the investment could help millions of people.