SEE – July 18th: Billionaire Bill Gates and Estée Lauder Cos chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder on Tuesday said they will allocate $30 million over three years to encourage development of new tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, Reuters reported.
For Microsoft co-founder Gates, launch of the Diagnostics Accelerator program follows an announcement in November of a personal investment of $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund aimed at bringing together industry and government to seek treatments for the brain-wasting disease.
In a blog post announcing his investment, Gates painted a picture of a future where diagnosing Alzheimer’s would be “as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical.”
The effort, Gates said, was increased in part by his personal experience with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer, the most common form of dementia, affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to rise to more than 131 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Funding provided through the initiative will be open to scientists and clinicians globally working in academic settings, charities and biotechnology companies.
Drugmakers have poured billions of dollars into scores of failed attempts to produce a treatment that can arrest the ravages of Alzheimer’s, a fatal disease that robs people of their memories and ability to care for themselves.
Many experts believe drug trials have failed in part because treatments were tested in people whose brains were already too damaged to benefit. They argue that drugs need to be tested early, before the disease has caused noticeable declines.