Bill Gates donates $170 million to fight dementia

THE fight against dementia just recruited a powerful ally after billionaire Bill Gates announced a mind-boggling $170 million investment towards finding the cure for the crippling disease.

The Microsoft co-founder dug deep into his own pockets and will invest $85 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that brings together industry and government experts.

That unbelievably generous donation will be followed by another $85 million contribution in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research.

"It's a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy - even for the people who stay alive - is very high," Gates told Reuters.

Despite years of research, little progress has been made into finding a way to beat back this hideous disease.

However, Gates was "optimistic" that new and well-funded innovation could lead to the much-needed breakthrough, though he admitted it may be years before a path to progress was laid out.

"It's very hard to hazard a guess (when an effective drug might be developed)," he said.

"I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs, but it's possible that won't be achieved."

Dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form, affects close to 50 million people worldwide and is expected to affect more than 131 million by 2050, according to the non-profit campaign group Alzheimer's Disease International.

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