Bill Gates reveals fears he will get Alzheimer’s after his father was diagnosed with disease
Bill Gates has revealed that his father has Alzheimer’s and that he fears he too will get the disease.
Mr Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, revealed that his 92-year-old father was "deeply affected" by the degenerative condition as he pledge a new fund to find a cure for the disease.
Mr Gates, 62, said he was donating $100 million to Alzheimer’s research after his father’s diagnosis had led him to worry about his own brain staying "intact as long as possible".
"More and more people are getting Alzheimer’s, and it’s a tragic disease," Mr Gates told US network NBC.
"I really believe that if we orchestrate the right resources, it’s solvable."
Mr Gates added that he feared suffering from the disease himself, saying: "I want my brain to stay intact as long as possible.
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"My job in terms of intellectual stimulation, learning new areas, meeting super smart people, is almost ideal from an exercising the brain point of view."
The condition, a degenerative disorders that trigger a gradual loss of brain function, affects around 850,000 people in the UK.
Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s, is the biggest cause of death in Britain.
Mr Gates made the comments to NBC presenter Maria Shriver, the former wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose own father Sargent Shriver died from Alzheimer’s.
Mr Gates told her: "You had a father, I have a father who is deeply affected by it.
"Only by solving problems like this can we take these medical costs and the human tragedy and get them under control.
"One of the things we’re trying to figure out is, when does the Alzheimer’s really get started? When would you need to treat somebody to completely avoid them getting Alzheimer’s?"
As a young man Mr Gates had a tempestuous relationship with his father, Bill Gates Sr, but later came to see him as a role model whose advice he relied upon.
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Mr Gates, who has three children with wife Melinda, is now worth $92.7 billion, and ranked as the richest man in the world by Forbes magazine.
Since stepping down from running Microsoft he has been an extremely active philanthropist.
The family set up the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which works to tackle diseases such as HIV and malaria in the developing world.
Mr Gates said he was turning his attention to Alzheimer’s because he believes that too much of the funding spent on mainstream research is ineffective.
"I’m an optimist," he said. "Bringing in new ideas, that’s what we’re gonna have to do, to have great drugs for this in the next 10 to 15 years."
Half of his $100 million donation will go to the Dementia Discovery Fund, an organisation focusing on new, unconventional research.
The other half will fund a US patient registry to make it faster to recruit people for trials and share data more effectively in order to spot patterns between sufferers.