Bill Gates joins the fight against Alzheimer's - and it's personal

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates has pledged $100 million of his own wealth to Alzheimer's research, dividing the money between startup ventures and an established private-public research partnership.

The Dementia Discovery Fund will get the first $50 million to help its mission of bringing together government and industry to work on treatments. He also plans to invest another $50 million in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research. Drugs aimed at dissolving amyloid plaques that can build up in the brain and strangle neurons have failed to reduce or delay symptoms in people with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's disease.

"It's a awful disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones", the philanthropist-businessman added.

"Some of the men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer's, but I wouldn't say that's the sole reason" (for this investment)", he added. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew", he said in a blog post about the dementia investments.

The Alzheimer's Association says more than 5 million Americans are living with the progressive disease, which impairs memory and cognitive function.

"This fact-that people are living longer than ever before-should always be a wonderful thing", Gates said on his blog. The longer you live, the more likely you are to develop a chronic condition. But of all the disorders that plague us late in life, one stands out as a particularly big threat to society: "Alzheimer's disease".

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The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), first launched in 2015 and run by venture capital firm SV Health, is focused on discovering and developing new therapies that are not in the mainstream for fighting the disease which is expected to affect 1m people in the United Kingdom alone by 2025.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has set his sights on solving a new problem: Alzheimer's disease.

"We don't really have anything that stops Alzheimer's, and so the growing burden is pretty unbelievable", Gates said in an interview with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.

Through talking to experts in the field over the past year, Gates said he had identified five areas of need: Understanding better how Alzheimer's unfolds, detecting and diagnosing it earlier, pursuing multiple approaches to trying to halt the disease, making it easier for people to take part in clinical trials of potential new medicines, and using data better.

"I'm excited to join the fight and can't wait to see what happens next", Gates said.

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