DALLAS (CBS11) – In a nation of aging adults, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is, for many, just a matter of time. Now, the search for an Alzheimer’s cure is about to get a big influx of cash. Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates today announced a $50 million donation from his personal fortune to support research avenues that might not otherwise be funded.
“We don’t really have anything that stops Alzheimer’s, so the growing burden is pretty unbelievable,” said Gates in an interview with CNN. “Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today. Yes, I believe there’s a solution.”
And it can’t come soon enough for Carol White of Dallas. She’s already watched the disease take a devastating toll– both parents were diagnosed with the disease. An older brother had early onset Alzheimer’s. An older sister was determined to be at high risk. She says her father’s personality changed drastically and her mother was kind; but, forgetful.
“I could visit her in the morning and in the afternoon she wouldn’t remember that I had been there,” says White, whose eyes filled with tears when asked about the difficulty of watching those you love, forget that they love you. “Difficult. And difficult to talk about.”
But, the decision to join a nationwide Alzheimer’s clinical trial at the UT Southwestern Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute came easy. White was the first to enroll in a study exploring whether regular aerobic exercise and taking specific medications to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help preserve brain function.
The answers the clinical trial could unlock may very well come too late for White. But, she knows that additional research will help someone and she’s glad to have played even a small pat.
“This disease affects an awful, awful lot of people,” says White. “The more people looking for a cure, the better.”