$30 Million Effort Launched to Develop Alzheimer's Diagnostic Tools

$30 Million Effort Launched to Develop Alzheimer's Diagnostic Tools

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Leonard Lauder, co-founder of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, have announced a new initiative aimed at developing novel biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

With funding from Gates and Lauder and additional support from the Dolby family, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and others, ADDF will launch the Diagnostics Accelerator, a venture philanthropy vehicle designed to back cutting-edge research conducted by scientists and clinicians at academic and nonprofit institutions as well as biotechnology companies. Last November, Gates announced he would invest a total of $100 million in support of Alzheimer's research.

One of the key barriers to the development of treatments for Alzheimer's disease, according to ADDF founding executive director and chief science officer Howard Fillit, is an insufficient toolbox of biomarkers with which to noninvasively and inexpensively diagnose patients in clinical practice and screen and identify patient subgroups that might benefit from novel therapies working their way through clinical trials. Biomarkers also are used to monitor disease progression and response to treatment and improve the rigor and efficiency of clinical trials.

"Imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer's disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical," Gates wrote in a blog post. "Research suggests that future isn't that far off, and Diagnostics Accelerator moves us one step closer."

(Photo credit: Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation)