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Wednesday February 15th, 2017

IDIBAPS participates in an European project to enable personalized therapies in multiple sclerosis

A global partnership, coordinated by the Karolinska Institutet and in which IDIBAPS researchers participate, has received 15 million euros from the European Commission framework program Horizon2020 to find new and improved treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This project, named MultipleMS, involves universities and companies from 12 European countries and the USA, which will join efforts to adapt the development and application of therapies to each MS patient.

MS is an immune-mediated disease and a leading cause of non-traumatic disability in young adults in Europe, affecting over 2 million persons worldwide. MS is a highly heterogeneous disease and a cure for MS is not yet available. As the result of current treatments varies strongly from patient to patient, predicting the specific beneficial treatment for each patient would improve disease management.

What is truly unique about this project is the scale of the partnership and the huge amount and different kinds of patient data that will be combined. Our novel approach is to take the multifaceted nature of MS as the starting point for identifying personalized treatment opportunities in MS”, Professor Ingrid Kockum of Karolinska Institutet, coordinator of the project, stated.

The project builds on the foundations and research networks laid out by earlier consortia such as the Nordic MS genetics network, the International MS Genetics Consortium (IMSGC) and International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC).

The project will combine a variety of data, such as, clinical, genetic, epigenetic, molecular, MRI and lifestyle data from more than 50,000 MS patients and 30,000 healthy individuals to elucidate differential disease characteristics in patients”, Professor Kockum says.

In parallel with the integration of the collectively available data, a sample of newly diagnosed patients will be followed longitudinally, resulting in a harmonized cohort to verify the lead findings. Based on this integrated information, the aim is that both existing and new treatments can be personalized based on characteristics and biomarkers in individual patients.

Dr. Pablo Villoslada, Head of the IDIBAPS research group Pathogenesis and new treatments in multiple sclerosis and coordinator of the project at IDIBAPS, explains that “our contribution to the MultipleMS project focuses on the application of Artificial Intelligence for the management of chronic diseases of the nervous system“. And he adds that “we have developed a computational model of the biological mechanisms of brain damage in MS designed to apply it to this study.” In addition, this technology will be validated and tuned in the Multiple Sclerosis patient cohorts of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona.

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