Major pharmaceutical companies like Novartis and Janssen are in the midst of clinical trials for drugs that slow down the disease's progress. Gates also said he plans to invest $50 million in emerging startups that are working on unique treatments, hoping to take a data-driven approach to discover how the disease progresses in its early forms. He also hopes that research will soon deliver better diagnostic tools, like a quick blood test, that can detect the disease sooner.
Both are comprised of his personal money, and not made as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
At least 5 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer's and that number could grow to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. "Like many diseases, the chances that we may need multiple drugs to get at different stages of the disease fully seems very likely".
Humans have a almost 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's if they live into their 80s, and scientists have yet to find the cause of the disease, Gates wrote on his blog.
The other $50 million will go to startup companies pursuing "less mainstream" approaches to treating the disease, although the companies have not been chosen yet, Reuters reported.
There hasn't been a new drug approved to treat Alzheimer's in more than a decade, and Bill Gates is impatient for a cure.
However, Gates said, that with well-funded and focused innovation, he was optimistic treatments will be found, even if they are over a decade in the future.
"I know how terrible it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity".
"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.
In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide lived with dementia, a number set to double every 20 years reaching 74.7 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050, according to World Alzheimer's Report 2015.