Kinza Kasher from LeoPlus USA was selected from a list of 10 finalists to receive the $25,000 grant for “Addressing Unmet Needs in MS: An Innovation Challenge,” Lyfebulb and Celgene announced.
This initiative’s goal is to encourage the development of innovative solutions to help those affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) overcome daily life challenges, or to address an unmet need beyond available therapies.
The grant will be used to further develop Kasher’s potential solution, Duet, a device coupled with an app that aims to help MS patients communicate with others and improve disease management.
“We know communication within families affected by multiple sclerosis can be challenging. Duet is an innovative way to create connections with those you love,” Tim Coetzee, PhD, who served as chair of the judging panel for the grant, said in a press release. Coetzee is chief advocacy, services and research officer at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Duet was designed to ease communication between MS patients and those who care for them by using an app to share messages.
The device has eight sides, so each MS patient can customize the program to have eight different messages at a given time. Each message will have a different color according to patient’s feelings. For example, a patient can program the device so that when he/she needs help the message will have a red color, or be yellow when he/she feels happy, or blue if the patient is calm, for example.
Duet also was designed to help those who receive the messages better understand the disease and help the MS patient, by sharing helpful tips about symptoms management.
According to Kasher, this strategy can represent an important tool for families affected by MS, while reducing the gap the disease may create between family members.
“We were particularly inspired by Kinza’s love for her mother [who is an MS patient], which then inspired this unique approach to fostering meaningful conversations and connections,” Coetzee said.
The panel of judges, which included experts in the MS, healthcare, and business communities, granted an honorable mention to Jason DaSilva, a MS patient and the creator of AXS Map, an online and mobile platform that allows users to locate, rate, and review the accessibility of any location in the world.
“We congratulate each of our patient entrepreneur finalists and Celgene for helping us shine the spotlight on both the issues confronting people affected by multiple sclerosis, and the innovative solutions that patient entrepreneurs are developing,” said Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, CEO and founder of Lyfebulb.
Lyfebulb-Celgene 2019 Challenge was open only to entrepreneurs who have been affected by MS as either a patient, family member, or support partner.
“We are proud to be supporting exceptional patient entrepreneurs who are bringing innovation and personal experience to develop potential solutions to help address challenges of those with multiple sclerosis,” said Terrie Curran, president of Celgene Inflammation and Immunology.
“We want to congratulate Kinza as being selected the winner of the Lyfebulb-Celgene 2019 Innovation Challenge, and are excited to provide this award to support her ongoing work,” Curran said.