Bill Gates has announced his newest mission and investment: To find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for over 60 percent of diagnoses.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, more than 45 million people are estimated to be currently living with dementia worldwide and as the population ages, it is expected to increase to over 100 million by 2050.
"Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today," he said, but "the long-term goal has got to be cure."
The billionaire, who also is the richest person on the planet, announced that he plans to make an initial investment of $50 million into the venture capital fund, Dementia Discovery Fund, that finances new treatments for the degenerative disease.
He plans to follow-up his contribution with another $50 million investment in a start-up venture that works in research for Alzheimer's, which currently has no cure.
I believe that we can alter the course of Alzheimer’s. That’s why I’m investing in the Dementia Discovery Fund. https://t.co/7fcixpeJd5— Bill Gates (@BillGates) November 13, 2017
The Microsoft co-founder is confident that a breakthrough can happen to help treat the disease. With the help of developing better early diagnosis and funding more diverse approaches, he is hoping to improve the quality of life for those who have been diagnosed.
"If we can catch the earliest signs of Alzheimer's, then we're treating a mostly healthy brain, and keeping it mostly healthy. ... It's very difficult to repair the damage once it's done," Dr. James Hendrix, who is head of the Alzheimer Association's Global Science Innovation Team.
So what inspired him to take on this cause now?
Gates has been named the richest person in the world for 18 of the last 23 years with an estimated net worth of $83.9 billion.
In 2014, Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft, which he co-founded with Paul Allen in 1975, but still remains on the board owning two percent of the company.
In the past few years, he has dedicated his time to his foundation, which is the largest private charity in the world and has helped fight diseases such as polio and malaria.
And now Gates is ready to take on Alheimer's.
“There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our chances: our understanding of the brain and the disease is advancing a great deal. We’re already making progress—but we need to do more,” he said.
With concerns about the aging population and some personal experience, Gates was sparked to take on the cause.
“I first became interested in Alzheimer’s because of its costs — both emotional and economic — to families and health care systems,” Gates wrote.
“Those who have dementia spend five times more annually on out-of-pocket health expenses than those who don’t have Alzheimer’s, and the disease accounts for direct American health care costs of $259 billion in 2017, with projected growth to $1.1 trillion in 2050,” the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement.
The 62-year-old said he was moved to make the huge investment by his personal experience and how the disease has affected men in his family.
In a blog post, he wrote: “I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.”
He also added that Alzheimer's is the only disease in the top ten causes of death in the United States that doesn't have a meaningful treatment.
"It's gone slower than we all would have hoped. A lot of failed drug trials," Gates said.
And he's right. Since 2002, there have been more than 400 Alzheimer drug trails run and yet no new treatments have come out of it.
The large investment is said to be coming from Gates directly, and not his philanthropic organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What do you think of Bill Gates's contribution? Will it help? Share with us in the comments.