On November 12, 2020, it was announced that Paulina Szklanna (photo), PhD, has won the 2020 University College Dublin (UCD) AbbVie Innovation Award for the potential within her research to develop an affordable clinical tool based on blood-borne markers to track the progression of multiple sclerosis over time. AbbVie (https://www.abbvie.com/) is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory and neurodegenerative condition that remains the most common cause of non-traumatic disability in young adults. 9,000 Irish people are currently living with MS and their individual disease progression is highly variable. Clinically predicting the course of the disease remains a huge challenge and biomarkers are urgently required to help in this effort. Dr. Szklanna and her colleagues have uncovered biomarkers released in the blood from platelets, the fragments involved in blood clotting. They used an interdisciplinary platform called PALADINTM or platelet-based diagnostics, which draws on cutting-edge biomedical, clinical, and machine learning know-how. The team uses these blood-borne markers with AI_PredictMS (Artificial Intelligence to Predict the future in Multiple Sclerosis); a prototype risk stratification solution for MS. In a recent trial, the researchers have shown that AI_PredictMS can differentiate between people with milder and people with more debilitating forms of multiple sclerosis with 97% accuracy. Dr. Szklanna is an early-career researcher working in the UCD Conway SPHERE group led by Professor Patricia Maguire, PhD, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and Professor Fionnuala Ni Ainle, MD, PhD, UCD School of Medicine. This award will provide Dr Szklanna with a research bursary of €8,000 (~$10,550) to enable her to advance her research.
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