$1M Gift to MS Society of Canada to Support New Tools for Better Therapy Decisions

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by Alice Melão, MSc |

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TD Bank Group has donated $1 million to the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada to support research projects aiming to use artificial intelligence to create tools enabling better use of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

MS Society will channel these funds into its Acts of Greatness campaign, which intends to raise $75 million to accelerate research into the disease and its treatment, move closer to a cure, and empower people with MS.

Fourteen DMTs are available to people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) in Canada, officials note in a press release, but the disease’s heterogeneity in both progression and symptoms make it challenging for doctors and patients alike to choose which therapy is best.

“We are increasingly aware of the importance of early intervention to avoid unnecessary irreversible disability, but the number of options can be daunting for newly-diagnosed individuals as they try to determine which DMT treatment they should take,” said Pamela Valentine, president and CEO of MS Society of Canada.

“With AI [artificial intelligence], there is an opportunity to help both people living with MS and health professionals better predict the right treatment course,” Valentine added.

Under the umbrella of the Acts of Greatness campaign, the MS Society  launched the AI & MS Discovery Grant. TD Bank’s donation will support this grant, which works to advance new ideas that leverage AI’s power with current patient and clinical data to create tools that better inform and optimize MS treatment plans.

The grant program, which is now accepting applications, supports research projects that use these existing data sets — from clinical trials, patient registries, administrative health databases and the like — in conjunction with AI methodologies. Its goal is to develop computer algorithms that be fashioned into tools that help in decisions concerning DMTs and likely outcomes for a patient.

Each algorithm will be tested either in a real-world setting or using real-world data, the MS Society says on its Discovery Grant webpage.

“Through The Ready Commitment, our global corporate citizenship platform, TD is proud to be part of this innovative opportunity, which has the potential to improve health outcomes and quality of life for thousands of Canadians living with MS,” said Andrea Barrack, global head of sustainability and corporate citizenship department at TD Bank Group.

“Artificial intelligence has opened up a new world for potential in research and we hope to see some of those possibilities come to fruition through this donation,” Barrack added.

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