Thu, Jul 19, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Gates, Lauder back early Alzheimer’s detection research

Reuters, CHICAGO

Billionaire Bill Gates and Estee Lauder Cos chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder on Tuesday said they would award US$30 million over three years to encourage development of new tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

For Microsoft cofounder Gates, the launch of the Diagnostics Accelerator program follows an announcement in November last year of a personal investment of US$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.

The effort was fueled in part by his personal experience with family members struggling with Alzheimer’s, Gates said.

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to rise to more than 131 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Gates and Lauder provided seed money for the diagnostics collaboration through the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), which was founded by Lauder.

They are to be joined by other philanthropists, including the Dolby family and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation.

Funding provided through the initiative will be open to scientists and clinicians globally working in academic settings, charities and biotechnology companies.

As a philanthropy vehicle, the ADDF Diagnostics Accelerator venture will invest in riskier projects that might not have immediate commercial return, the group said in a statement.

Drugmakers have poured billions of US 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.

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