Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has often spoken publicly about his mother’s fight with Alzheimer’s disease. Frustrated by the overwhelming funding hurdles in Alzheimer’s drug developing, he is now using his vast resources to fight the disease, recently awarding five research teams $7 million to study the brain.
Learn more about what these teams plan to study and the impact of personal donations to close the funding gap in Alzheimer’s research.
Paul Allen Donates $7 Million to Alzheimer’s
Paul Allen, a well-known philanthropist and the co-founder of Microsoft, has awarded $7 million in grants to research teams fighting Alzheimer’s. The fight is personal for Allen, whose own mother had Alzheimer’s.
Judy Lytle, manager of medical research for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s life sciences portfolio said that Allen’s desire to award the grants came from wanting to overcome hurdles in the field of Alzheimer’s drug development with over 99% of all clinical trials of experimental therapies failing.
The five winning teams were chosen from 50 applicants and all use an interdisciplinary approach when it comes to their methodology. All winning teams include neurology experts and scientists in other fields, specifically immunology. Three of the projects are focusing on the plaques and tangles that form in brains with Alzheimer’s and how the brain reacts when those are formed. The two remaining projects are focused on how aging impacts Alzheimer’s.
Lytle is hopeful that these projects will give greater insight into what is happening to the brain before symptoms of Alzheimer’s occur and could hopefully lead to better treatment methods for people living with the disease, saying:
“If we understand that progression, maybe we can actually intervene at the appropriate time. But the first step is to understand what’s happening there.”
Using Donations to Close the Funding Gap
The idea of wealthy philanthropists funding Alzheimer’s research is important for researchers seeking financial support from large drug companies. With federal support of Alzheimer’s research being at $586 million, there is a large gap between the cost of Alzheimer’s care and the amount being spent on finding a cure.
Even with the recent Senate Appropriations Committee proposal to increase federal funding by 60%, Lytle notes that inter-disciplinary teams, like the ones Allen is supporting, face challenges in being awarded that money from a federal source. Lytle went on to say that:
“Paul is very interested in Alzheimer’s disease research… it hits close to home for him. We’re in the process of putting together a 10-year plan for the topics we want to go after, and given that interest, I can see a role for neurodegenerative disease and Alzheimer’s specifically.”
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