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Medicine Technology

Bill Gates Pledges $100 Million To Find an Alzheimer's Cure, His First Commitment To a Non-communicable Disease (reuters.com) 135

At present, there is no treatment to stop the Alzheimer's. Bill Gates wants to make a sizeable attempt to change that. From a report:He is to invest $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that brings together industry and government to seek treatments for the brain-wasting disease. The investment -- a personal one and not part of Gates' philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- will be followed by another $50 million in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research, Gates said. "It's a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy -- even for the people who stay alive -- is very high," he said. Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms.

Bill Gates Pledges $100 Million To Find an Alzheimer's Cure, His First Commitment To a Non-communicable Disease

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2017 @10:35AM (#55540337)

    I'm sure this thread will be filled with pithy comments and shit-talking but at the of the day, I give the guy a lot of credit for dumping money into real-world problems.

    • I'm sure this thread will be filled with pithy comments and shit-talking but at the of the day, I give the guy a lot of credit for dumping money into real-world problems.

      This forum has gotten to the point where the ideas I support the most are exactly the ones that attract the largest number of shitpost comments. It's become a personal metric of willingness to be adventurous.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday November 13, 2017 @10:37AM (#55540343)
    Once you're brain is full of holes, that's more or less it. There can however be preventative treatments.
  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    It's also a universal problem, so regardless of what medical system you're born under, it still will be a social drain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2017 @10:58AM (#55540469)

    It's astounding how many tech billionaires see their calling in prolonging life.

    • I find his latest contribution rather.... forgettable!
    • It's astounding how many tech billionaires see their calling in prolonging life.

      At last, their self-interest is our self-interest too. And they are the ones with the money to do something about it.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        Any kind of age-related technology will involve a gate-keeping price that well and truly keeps the plebs out.
        • Any kind of age-related technology will involve a gate-keeping price that well and truly keeps the plebs out.

          The first iteration of any major new technology is expensive. Then if it's any good, it proliferates and gets cheaper.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now we know he has Alzheimer's. That explains a lot.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      You made an inference. A really weak one. You seem to think it's a strong inference. I'd look into that if I were you. It's probably going to cause you to believe all sorts of shit that isn't true (but maybe you like believing it, so it's OK?).
  • -- even for the people who stay alive -- S/B --ESPECIALLY for
    This online community relies on its brain over our hands or bodies to an unusual degree. Losing mental capacity sucks, even the natural aging stuff. [five of you know what I mean.] Alzheimer's is living death.

    But starting a VC fund to fund research rather than funding NFP research organizations is a model for guiding the invisible hand in the era of small government. It's not new, but its worth mentioning. This is not a part of the charitable f
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2017 @11:09AM (#55540543)

    A lot of Bill's philanthropy is actually for-profit investments. A treatment for preventing Alzheimer's could be very profitable, so this may turn out to be a lucrative investment if it pays off.

    That's not to say there's anything wrong with Bill's approach. Giving people money with no strings attached generally results in that money being wasted (see: the government). I think Bill's more commercial approach to philanthropy has a far better chance of delivering results.

    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday November 13, 2017 @11:21AM (#55540625) Homepage

      Giving people money with no strings attached generally results in that money being wasted (see: the government). I think Bill's more commercial approach to philanthropy has a far better chance of delivering results.

      That's a very libertarian sentiment, but it's sometimes true and sometimes not.

      I am happy to live in the twenty-first century, and one of the things about our time that I am most proud of is that I live in a world in which smallpox does not exist as a disease. It was wiped out. It was wiped out by a deliberate, concerted campaign by the World Health Organization, by doctors who really had nothing personal to gain by eliminating smallpox from villages in the third world that they would never visit.

      (On television, the planet has been saved by the actions of Doctor Who. For much of the planet, however, the real work in saving the planet was actions of the WHO doctors.)

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday November 13, 2017 @12:57PM (#55541239)
        Smallpox was eradicated because (1) it only infects humans, (2) the symptoms are highly visible, and (3) people who've had the disease are immune but no longer carriers. Once enough humans were vaccinated and infected persons were isolated, the disease was unable to find new hosts and was eradicated.

        Unfortunately this is not the case for other diseases. We attempted to eradicate Yellow Fever in the early 1900s, but it failed because the disease can infect other species. Polio has been difficult because an infected person is often asymptomatic, and can unwittingly spread the disease. Likewise, measles has a long period between when an infected person can spread the disease, and when the symptoms first appear. Malaria is probably the disease we'd most like to eradicate, but you can get malaria multiple times. So vaccination only confers a low level of immunity.

        The only other disease we're getting close to eradicating is Guinea worm. This is a parasitic disease, not a virus, but by educating people about drinking clean water or boiling or filtering before drinking, it was nearly eradicated. Unfortunately it ran into (1) above - it was thought that the worms could only infect people, and thus a global halt to infection for a short period of time would be enough to drive the worm into extinction. Then we discovered that dogs can also carry the form of worm which infects humans [npr.org].

        When faced with a myriad of different problem conditions like this, the best approach is usually a shotgun approach. You throw all sorts of different things against the wall in hopes of randomly finding something that sticks. That is the libertarian philosophy. Your insinuation that libertarians require personal profit as motivation is incorrect. Libertarians are free to donate their money to whatever causes they feel are worthy, and do so all the time. What libertarians are against is being forced to donate their money to causes they personally don't feel are worthy, or being prevented from donating their money to causes they feel are worthy.

        What the GP is advocating is a market-based approach to combating diseases. A libertarian, being in favor of the shotgun approach, would approve of both for-profit and charitable means of fighting diseases. The anti-market folks (mostly liberal) would try to prevent for-profit approaches without even seeing if they would work. And likewise the pro-market folks (mostly conservative) would try to phase out charitable approaches in favor of for-profit approaches. To the libertarian, the anti-market folks can donate to the charities fighting diseases, the pro-market folks can donate to for-profit organizations fighting diseases, and everyone is happy (well, everyone except those who think they are "right" and feel they should be able to control how the "wrong" people spend their money).
        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          To the libertarian, the anti-market folks can donate to the charities fighting diseases, the pro-market folks can donate to for-profit organizations fighting diseases, and everyone is happy (well, everyone except those who think they are "right" and feel they should be able to control how the "wrong" people spend their money).

          Meh, I'd be happy with people who want to pay no taxes if we could also exclude them from any and all benefits from public services, public education, public roads, emergency services, military and so on. It's a software pirate's mentality taken back into the real world, I didn't really want to pay for it anyway. But you're reaping the benefits every day, it's basically a smug way to freeload. It's more selfishness than ideology, if you're below average let's all pull together. If you're above average, ever

          • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

            That's easy when you got a winning ticket in life's lottery...

            Nah, people like that give luck zero credit. Everything was down to their 'hard work'.

        • Yeah, but the governments of the world, working together, ELIMINATED THE MOST DEADLY DISEASE IN HISTORY. No disease killed as many people as smallpox, and it's gone. They're working on polio, which was widely feared when I was young. I don't care about someone saying "that was easy", because it wasn't. It took massive coordinated government effort. Smallpox was what started inoculation, and if the free market was going to eliminate it it would have been done long ago.

      • by Toad-san ( 64810 )

        A lot of people (Gates included, usually matching Rotary International's efforts) have been working long and hard to make the same thing happen with polio. We may see the end of THAT crippling disease Real Soon now.

        More on topic, the CART effort has been trying to push and fund research into Alzheimer's and dementia research for years now:

        http://www.cartfund.org/ [cartfund.org]

        Again a Rotary-based initiative.

        Yeah, throwing money at stuff doesn't always work, there's gonna be waste, there's gonna be fraud ... but guarante

    • "Giving people money with no strings attached generally results in that money being wasted (see: the government)"

      Americans, with their touching belief that corporations don't waste as much or more money than your basic government, have got to be the most self-satisfied propaganda victims on the planet. I'd stack 'em up any day against your basic Chinese peasant who never heard anything unusual happened in Tienanmen Square.

      • The argument is NOT that companies aren't wasteful.

        The argument is that as companies waste more and more money; as they become more and more inefficient they become less profitable and less competitive. Over time, companies that become wasteful go out of business.

        Now, as governments and government agencies get more bureaucratic, more wasteful is there anything that stops this process?

        Do bureaucracies magically reorganize themselves and become more efficient (ie removing, reducing positions)?
        • by jopsen ( 885607 )

          The argument is that as companies waste more and more money; as they become more and more inefficient they become less profitable and less competitive. Over time, companies that become wasteful go out of business.

          I generally see services/products without much innovation, huge barriers to entry and/or little change as candidates for being public services. Any kind of insurance is a good example. Government bureaucracies can be very efficient: consider private health care insurances vs. medicare.

          In these scenarios private organizations often drive up cost/inefficiency, because they only way to introduce more profit is to drive up inefficiency.

          Now, as governments and government agencies get more bureaucratic, more wasteful is there anything that stops this process?

          Politicians... And yes, in other countries we do from time to time see mas

          • The insurance industry is sclerotic for what reason? Could it be the layers and layers of regulations? How many hours per week do doctors need to spend to fill out bureaucratic information as requested (no demanded) by the government.

            Government is horrible at deciding insurance - look at the idiots that want everything, including the kitchen sink, to be mandatory in insurance policies.

            If the market was more involved there would be simple - high deductible catastrophic insurance available. I want to be
            • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
              Wait times and all, I would never swap for your barbaric system. Yours would work if the healthcare was priced reasonably. It isn't. Not even close.
    • A lot of Bill's philanthropy is actually for-profit investments.

      There is a place for the "for profit philanthropy", esp. in medicine. Imagine a company that charged just over the bare minimum for their pills to cover the cost of production.

    • I think the philosophy behind the Gates Foundation (Seattleite here, not affiliated with the foundation or Gates himself) was to build a self sustaining foundation that would not drain the endowment. Bigger, longer projects with a very broad scope. It is a noble idea, I don't think there is anything wrong with capitalism particularly if the driver is the betterment of mankind but these things have a way of changing over time. Remember when Google's motto was do no evil? Just saying it isn't as nefarious as
  • ...he forgot where he put the check.

  • One hundred million dollars is more money than I could ever comprehend. Actually one million is more than will pass through my hands through my entire existence. To Bill Gates it's a one week dividend (at 5%/yr) on his ninety billion dollars. Thanks Bill.
    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

      This is like when people donate to cancer research 'charities' they're not in it to help anyone, they're just scared of dying prematurely from cancer. Investment, not charity.

      • 1. Get idea.
        2. Email P.R. guy to send it out on the wire.
        3. Tell secretary to notify accountant of another tax deduction.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Actually one million is more than will pass through my hands through my entire existence.

      I can't tell whether your math skills are poor, you're planning for a career in fast food, or you just have a heartbreakingly low estimation of your own lifespan.

  • "Bill Gates Pledges $100 Million To Find an Alzheimer's Cure, His First Commitment To a Non-communicable Disease "

    The jury is still out, it still might be an infectious disease. There will have to be more studies.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/l... [independent.co.uk]

  • Ann Landers wrote a column lobbying for increased funding for cancer research. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/olivia-katrandjian/retro-report-nixon-cancer_b_4182302.html) Richard Nixon signed the bill and we poured a huge amount of money into cancer research. Yet most of the progress we have made has been the result of prevention and early detection. What did we really get from that money? Some of the treatments that were developed were actually harmful. We know a lot more about genetics, the immune

    • Ann Landers wrote a column lobbying for increased funding for cancer research. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/olivia-katrandjian/retro-report-nixon-cancer_b_4182302.html) Richard Nixon signed the bill and we poured a huge amount of money into cancer research. Yet most of the progress we have made has been the result of prevention and early detection. What did we really get from that money

      At the time, not much. One of the few novel scientific discoveries coming from Nixon's War on Cancer, was the existence of previously unknown class of viruses associated with some uncommon forms of human leukemia. This novel class of virus was the called the "Retroviruses [wikipedia.org]" for their unusual RNA-to-DNA reverse transcription mechanism used as part of their life cycle.

      At the time not considered to be of any major clinical significance in human disease, although this opinion would later be revised [wikipedia.org].

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      It sounds great to wipe out a disease, but let's make sure we don't squander this money.

      There's a huge difference between "not having found a universal cure for cancer" and "squandering the money."

      People DO survive cancer, and many of them do so as a result of treatments that didn't exist decades ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The "experts" and governments who told us to eat high carb/low fat diets, were completely wrong. We'll be paying for that lie for a long long time.

  • by Matheus ( 586080 ) on Monday November 13, 2017 @12:36PM (#55541053) Homepage

    Unrelated: Billionaire Bill Gates diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's...

Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should.

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