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Preeclampsia diagnostic tool scoops AI Innovation prize at Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards

Posted 10 October, 2023

A diagnostic tool developed to identify one of the world’s deadly pregnancy complication has been named “AI Innovation of the Year” at the inaugural Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards.

AI_PREMie addresses the significant challenge of diagnosing preeclamptic toxaemia (PET) by using biomedical, clinical and machine learning techniques to provide a straightforward assessment of pregnancies at risk of PET complications.

Development of the pioneering diagnostic tool - which is currently being piloted in three major maternity hospitals in Dublin - is led by Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and its team includes Dr Paulina Szklanna, and Professor Mary Higgins and Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, UCD School of Medicine.

“Every seven minutes, an expectant mother loses her life due to pre-eclampsia complications, and every 40 seconds, a baby is lost for the same reason,” said Professor Maguire.

“The mission of AI_PREMie is to get the test to every person who needs it as the whole team really believes it will save lives.

“Years of translational research has unearthed crucial biomarkers that, when coupled with clinical data, serve as the foundation for an advanced machine learning model underlying AI_PREMie.

“This model is poised to revolutionise clinical decision-making in the realm of pre-eclampsia, a condition with no rapid diagnostic test currently available.

Adding that winning the ‘AI Innovation of the Year’ award “would not have been possible without the incredible support of the amazing interdisciplinary team based across UCD and the three Dublin Maternity Hospitals as well as Challenge Funding from Science Foundation Ireland.”

Celebrating significant contributions to advancing digital transformation across Ireland, the Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards recognised 11 achievements of public sector organisations and individuals at its inaugural ceremony.

The awards aim to provide a much-needed platform to showcase cutting-edge technologies and innovative approaches making a real impact and improving the experiences of people across Ireland.

Preeclampsia affects almost one in every 10 pregnancies and every year it claims the lives of 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies, many in developing countries.

Its warning signs are difficult to detect, meaning preeclampsia often goes undetected until complications become serious, often life threatening.

It is hoped that AI_PREMie will arm clinical care providers with an affordable risk stratification tool that can help to prevent such unnecessary adverse outcomes for mother and baby.

“At present, we have over 400 expectant mothers enrolled in our project, and AI_PREMie is demonstrating great promise,” said Professor Maguire.

“Our immediate goal is to conduct trials of AI_PREMie in Dublin maternity hospitals in 2024, with the aim of global deployment.”

The AI_PREMie project is backed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the University College Dublin, National Maternity Hospital, the Rotunda Hospital, the Coombe Women’s Hospital, the SAS Institute and Microsoft Ireland.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Emma Loughney, UCD Research and Innovation)

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie