doctor. Xavier Montalban received the Lilly Foundation Award from

doctor.  Xavier Montalban received the Lilly Foundation Award from

In the past 30 years, the prognosis for patients with multiple sclerosis has improved significantly. Previously, when the disease was unknown and no treatments were available, the probability of reaching the age of 40 with a third-degree disability was 86%. Now, with 14 treatments and early diagnosis available, that chance has dropped to 20%. Pioneering work in Spain by Dr. Xavier Montalbán, Head of the Neurology Service at the Val d’Hebron University Hospital, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Catalonia (Cemcat), Head of the Clinical Neuroimmunology Group at the Val d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR), Professor of Neurology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Professor of Neuroscience at UVic-UCC, and is a recipient of the 2024 Lilly Foundation Clinical Biomedical Research Prize, which was awarded yesterday in Madrid.

Montalban’s leadership and dedication to biomedical research continues to pave the way for a future in which multiple sclerosis becomes increasingly manageable and less devastating to those who suffer from it. As future challenges, he emphasizes the need to continue searching for preventive and restorative neurological treatments. “At the moment, we are very effective in suppressing focal inflammation. But in slow neurodegeneration we are much worse. We are working on specific projects with the aim of protecting and repairing nerves.”“, notes Montalban. In fact, as a member of the scientific committee of the International Alliance for Progressive MS, he is involved in the search for treatments that not only suppress inflammation, but also repair neurological damage.

doctor. Montalban is also immersed in researching new ways to control multiple sclerosis using wearable devices and smartphone technology. An example is the RADAR-CNS initiative.

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Artificial intelligence to determine the optimal treatment

During his professional career, Dr. Montalban has worked extensively on identifying clinical, radiological and biological prognostic factors for early diagnosis of the disease. In 1995, he established a pioneering center called SIMCAT, where, thanks to a prospective group of patients, he was able to monitor thousands of cases that provided essential data to improve the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

In this center they have been able to develop personalized medical models, using artificial intelligence to analyze data and create algorithms that allow determining the optimal treatment for each patient. “Creating this group has been the most important success of my academic career. Although the disease still has a significant psychological and physical impact, many patients are now able to maintain a high quality of life and live normal lives.says Montalban.

A world leader in multiple sclerosis research

doctor. Montalban led research that changed the understanding and treatment of multiple sclerosis. One of his most notable contributions was to demonstrate that the disease progresses even without a clear outbreak, which changed the therapeutic approach to early intervention and improved long-term prognosis.

“We now know that multiple sclerosis is a continuum, and that there is not one form that is relapsing and another that is progressive. The pathogenic mechanisms are the same throughout the disease. For this reason, it is essential to intervene quickly after diagnosis to improve long-term prognosis.he explains.

In addition, there has rarely been an investigational trial of disease-modifying therapy in which it has not played an important role in the planning and implementation of the trial and the eventual integration of the treatment into contemporary practice.

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doctor. Montalban points out that without teamwork, none of this would have been possible.

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