Philanthropists donate $30m towards finding Alzheimer’s cure

A coalition of philanthropists has announced they are donating more than $30 million in a drive to combat Alzheimer’s disease.

Bill Gates and Leonard Lauder are among those who have joined forces to launch the Diagnostic Accelerator, a tool that develops biomarkers that could lead to the early detection of the disease.

A statement on the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s (ADDF) website explains the ethos behind the move: “Currently available tests for Alzheimer’s are expensive and invasive. Reliable, affordable, and accessible biomarkers have the potential to revolutionize how we approach Alzheimer’s disease by allowing us to better understand how the disease progresses, more easily identify people for clinical trials, and more accurately monitor their response to treatments.”

The Diagnostics Accelerator brings together initial commitments worth more than $30 million from partners including Bill Gates, Leonard Lauder, the Dolby family, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and others, who are committed to bringing the funding, focus, resources and urgency required.

Howard Fillit

Howard Fillit

Dr Howard Fillit, founding executive director and chief science officer of the ADDF, said, “Biomarkers can show whether someone is suffering from a disease, and also how the body responds to a treatment for that disease.

“The significance of biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease research is underscored by recent Food and Drug Administration guidelines that recognise the critical role of biomarkers in drug development, and shift the research definition of the early stages of the disease to include biomarkers, even before clinical symptoms become apparent.”

He also noted that one of the goals of Diagnostics Accelerator is to develop novel drugs for new targets, such as inflammation and epigenetics.

ADDF supports an area that is underfunded because research and development is risky. Most projects in the preclinical drug discovery and early-stage clinical trials are not far enough along in the drug development pipeline to attract financial support from the pharmaceutical industry or other major partners.

ADDF absorbs this risk and bridges the funding gap, enabling scientists to pursue groundbreaking ideas that might lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 44 million people and is currently the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed down.

The foundation is the only charity whose sole aim is to find medication to treat Alzheimer’s.

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