#MSParis2017 – Merck Announces Winners of 1 Million Euro Grant for Innovative Multiple Sclerosis Research

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Research teams from Canada, Portugal and the United States, each with projects focused on predicting and defining characteristics of multiple sclerosis (MS) , will share this year’s 1 million euro ($1,165,700) Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation (GMSI), announced by Merck at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting in Paris, France, on Oct. 25-28, 2017.

The winning projects are:

  • “Immunosenescence as a predictor of MS progression,” led by Catherine Larochelle and Nathalie Arbour, from the Department of Neurosciences at Université de Montréal, Canada
  • “Targeting multiple sclerosis immune- and psycho-pathophysiology by modulation of neuroinflammation; development of the S100B knockout model studies,” led by Adelaide Fernandes, from the Faculty of Pharmacy at University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • “Defining Spatial Pattern and Surface Characteristics of Multiple Sclerosis and Non-Specific White Matter Lesions via 3-Dimensional Analysis and Machine Learning,” led by Darin Okuda, from the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas, U.S.

“This year’s Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation winners exemplify recent innovation with promising concepts in artificial intelligence, augmented diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, as well as sophisticated monitoring of disease progression, supporting caregivers and patients with multiple sclerosis in their hopes to continue to lead a normal life,” Steven Hildemann, global chief medical officer and head of global patient safety at Merck, said in a press release..

The winners for this year’s fifth annual GMSI were chosen from 77 proposals from 25 countries, all representing innovative projects.

During the symposium, Merck also announced the new call for proposals for the 2018 GMSI edition. Topics include MS pathogenesis, prediction of MS subtypes, markers of treatment response, potential new therapies and innovative patient support programs, mobile health devices or patient-reported outcomes.

“Merck is deeply committed to innovative science that improves the lives of patients living with severe diseases. Since its initiation, the funding of early stage research projects such as the Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation, has enabled talented and inspiring researchers to advance our understanding of how we predict, diagnose, treat and monitor progression of this disabling disease,” Hildemann said.

The GMSI was first launched in October 2012 to fund promising translational research projects by academic scientists to improve the understanding of MS. Selection criteria include relevance to clinical practice, innovative research, scientific rationale, feasibility, and practical utility.

Previous recipient teams have focused on molecular markers of MS, novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) techniques to diagnose MS, and methods to reduce and repair nerve damage caused by inflammation.

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