VISICORT researchers exhibit at the largest public science forum in Ireland

VISICORT researchers at NUI Galway exhibited at the Galway Science and Technology Forum on 26 November 2017. In excess of 20,000 people attended the exhibition day. The NUI Galway regenerative medicine stand was the brainchild of Dr Siobhán Gaughan who works across several EU-funded stem cell projects coordinated at NUI Galway. Coordinators Matt Griffin and Thomas Ritter, along with Siobhán Gaughan were on hand to explain the cell research ongoing at the university, the objectives and mission of VISICORT, and to inspire the next generation of stem cell scientists. Several activities were on exhibition.

Microscopes were on hand to display bone marrow-derived MSCs and cells differentiated into fat cells. This display was used as an aid to discuss or explain how we need stem cells in our body to replace dead cells in our body and how these stem cells can differentiate down different pathways to make new fat, bone, skin and muscle.

Anatomical models were exhibited to explain the importance of the three EU-funded clinical trials involving stem cells that currently taking place through the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway:

o VISICORT project aims to treat corneal transplant rejection by using an infusion of human bone marrow-derived stromal cells obtained from healthy bone marrow donors. The cells are expanded in CCMI cell manufacturing facility as a cell product, frozen and shipped to Charite Hospital in Berlin where corneal transplant patients will be treated. The cell therapy used in this trial aims to reduce the risk of rejection of the corneal transplant.

o ADIPOA-2 is treating osteoarthritis using adipose-derived stromal cells. Cells are isolated from fat tissue procured by liposuction, expanded under GMP (good manufacturing practices) conditions in Centre for Cell Manufacturing in Ireland (CCMI), the cell manufacturing facility at NUI Galway and injected into the knee of people with osteoarthritis. The treatment aims to reduce the pain and inflammation.

o NEPHSTROM is a project involving a clinical trial which aims to treat diabetic kidney disease using bone marrow-derived stem cells. Complications of diabetes were explained to help contextualise this project and a diabetic foot model with a black toe was also on hand.

AUTOSTEM is an EU-funded project to develop a robotic clean room platform system for the manufacture of large quantities of cells in bioreactors. These large quantities of therapeutic cells will be required once cell therapy clinical trial results prove successful and a cohort of patients will be line up for treatment worldwide. The AUTOSTEM video ran on a loop for display to the public.

Special thanks to Dr Paul Lohan for tech support with the films and Dr Georgina Shaw for supplying the cells for display. Also thanks to Ning Ge and Yicheng Ding of the iPS cell group at REMEDI led by Prof Sanbing Shen.

For more photos and information about the Galway Science & Technology Festival 2017, follow us on Twitter @VISICORT

For more information on the projects mentioned, please see:

• ADIPOA-2 http://adipoa2.eu/ is led by Prof Frank Barry. Cartilage repair in the knee using stem cells derived from fat.
• VISICORThttp://visicort.eu/ is coordinated by Prof Matthew Griffin. Infusions of bone marrow (BM)- derived stem cells to treat people with corneal transplants avoid transplant rejection.
• NEPHSTROM http://nephstrom.eu/ Led by Prof Tim O’Brien. Infusions of BM-MSCs to treat patients with chronic kidney disease
• AUTOSTEM http://www.autostem2020.eu/ is coordinated by Prof Mary Murphy. This project develops a robotic platform and bioreactor which will grow the many cells required to treat future patients. A model bioreactor was available for demonstration.

Galway Advertiser Science Week 2017