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USask study hones in on causes of MS disability

story by Federica Giannelli, photo by David Stobbe

University of Saskatchewan research team is a step closer to finding a cause of the nerve cell death experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a discovery that could lead to better treatments for this permanent and debilitating disease.

“Determining the mechanism that may be contributing to nerve cell damage could help us develop new drugs that better treat the disability caused by multiple sclerosis,” said USask neurology professor Dr. Michael Levin, Saskatchewan Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research Chair.

Levin and his PhD student Hannah Salapa have been the first to identify that stress granules found in nerve cells of MS brains may contribute to patients’ permanent disability by damaging nerves through inflammation of brain and spinal cord. The findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology and were presented at a major international conference in Brisbane, Australia, in August. read more...

This article first ran as part of the 2018 Young Innovators series, an initiative of the U of S Research Profile and Impact office in partnership with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

USask system to improve online privacy

Story by Federica Giannelli, photo by Dave Stobbe

New University of Saskatchewan computer science research that helps people control their data and online privacy has the potential to change data sharing on social media.

Professor Julita Vassileva and her PhD student Ajay Shrestha have developed a web application that helps users store their data permanently and set conditions for others to access the data.

The researchers’ goal is to make research collaboration across the globe easier and fairer for researchers, but the project could also apply to business and social media.

“Our system may be used for data sharing on social networks,” said Shrestha, who moved to USask from Nepal. “Users could retain control over their data, instead of giving up their personal information to companies such as Facebook or Google that use it to earn billions by selling personalized ads.”

The lack of user consent has fuelled the recent scandal that saw Cambridge Analytica gathering user data through a Facebook application. Cambridge Analytica allegedly used the data to tailor Facebook advertisements that may have influenced voting in the 2016 U.S. elections. read more...

This article first ran as part of the 2018 Young Innovators series, an initiative of the U of S Research Profile and Impact office in partnership with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.