Allergan Innovation Award Winner Wants to Improve Early Diagnosis of Heart Attacks

Arabelle Cassedy, a PhD candidate in Dublin City University’s School of Biotechnology, has been announced as the winner of the DCU Allergan Innovation Award for 2017/18. The award will provide Arabelle with a bursary of €5,000 to further her research to develop antibodies that allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis of heart attacks in patients.

Delayed diagnosis of heart attacks can lead to poorer patient outcomes. At present, heart attacks are diagnosed using tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG) but Arabelle believes in future they could be diagnosed in minutes through a simple blood test. After a heart attack, a marker called cardiac troponin is released into the bloodstream in low concentrations. Arabelle’s research involves generating new more sensitive antibodies in the laboratory that can detect the presence of cardiac troponin at very low levels.

Under the guidance of Principal Investigator, Professor Richard O’Kennedy, Arabelle is collaborating with colleagues to develop a panel of antibodies that detect the presence of cardiac troponin. The ultimate goal is to develop a point of care device that can be used by doctors to quickly analyse a blood sample.

Speaking at the announcement of the award, Arabelle stated, “I was so delighted to receive this award which will enable me to travel to Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar to collaborate with other researchers working in this field and to access state of the art characterisation systems to further my research. I have already identified some promising antibodies but there is a lot more work to do to determine their qualities. The characterisation systems in Hamad Bin Khalifa will allow me to establish if the antibodies are sensitive enough to cardiac troponin and to ensure that they do not react to other compounds in the bloodstream.”

Speaking at the award presentation, Anne Parle-McDermott, Head of DCU’s School of Biotechnology commented,

“We are delighted that one of our PhD students, Arabelle Cassedy, can bring her research to another level through this award.  The nature of research projects is that they evolve and develop down new pathways as the data starts to come together; the flexible funding provided by the Allergan Innovation Award for researchers is invaluable in supporting this.”


The Allergan Innovation Award Programme was launched by Allergan in March 2017 to mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland. DCU is one of six Higher Education Institutions that Allergan is partnering with in Ireland to provide funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance innovative research studies in the field of life sciences.

The award was presented to Arabelle by Dr Francis Bates, Vice President Global Solid Oral Dosage Manufacturing at Allergan, and the Plant General Manager at the manufacturing facility at Clonshaugh in Dublin. Speaking at the award presentation, Francis said

“We are delighted that the Allergan Innovation Award Programme will allow students, such as Arabelle, to further advance their exciting research in the field of Life Sciences. For a company such as Allergan, innovation is truly the lifeblood of our industry, so we hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within this field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as DCU, is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and our industry.”