Billionaire Bill Gates is personally investing $50 million to help fund research to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that Gates says has struck members of his own family.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, which destroys memory and other mental processes, and so Gates said he is investing his own money into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public partnership to search for a solution.
“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” the philanthropist wrote Monday on his blog. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. “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. My family history isn’t the sole reason behind my interest in Alzheimer’s. But my personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease.”
Gates noted that he, personally, is not without his own worries. “Anything where my mind would deteriorate, I have to say I would be disappointed thinking about complex problems,” he told CNN. “I hope I can live a long time without those limitations.”
Alzheimer’s, said to be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, affects more than 5 million Americans — a number that is expected to spike to as high as 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Though medications and other therapies may ease the symptoms, they do not slow the progression.