The 4-stop VISICORT clinical trial monitor tour is complete!

Henrik Sejersen, Clinical Optometrist and VISICORT researcher at the Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Aarhus took to the road to visit clinical trial sites undertaking the recruitment and execution of VISICORT’s clinical studies. This VISICORT clinical study monitor tour resulted from a lively discussion at the most recent plenary meeting hosted by the University of Bristol on the 26th and 27th of October 2017. One resulting action item from the meeting entailed visits by Henrik to four clinical trial sites with a view to promoting the completeness and accuracy of clinical data on the cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Remarking on the tour Henrik stated, “It has been a fantastic trip around Europe; a tight schedule with monitoring visits in 4 different countries in 5 days.  But it was worth the effort. Together with the local investigators, I went through the majority of the prospective and some cross-sectional patients and compared data from their records with the Vims System. In general, the sites have done a good job, but there were some small variations in the way we type in and analyze our results.  That has now been addressed, and the data reliability and accuracy has been increased. Going through that many data I found astounding few mistypes which support the brilliant job the research staff is doing. Each site has now been encouraged to do self-monitoring in the future.”

VISICORT coordinator, Prof. Matthew Griffin of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland, Galway commented: “The VISICORT project is gathering detailed clinical data from new and established corneal transplant recipients at five leading Ophthalmology Centres in Europe. This information will become more and more valuable as time goes by. Of most importance to our research goals, it will allow us to link the molecular signatures in samples taken from the patients early after transplantation to rejection and other harmful events that occur months or years later. We have successfully developed an excellent web-based database that stores this information securely and confidentially. However, accurate and consistent data collection at each site also requires high-level training and dedicated attention to detail from the research teams at each site. Mr Sejersen’s tour of the clinical research sites at Dublin, Bristol, Berlin and Nantes have helped to consolidate the great team spirit that has grown up among the VISICORT researchers involved the project across these sites. This “human touch” element is critical to ensuring that the clinical information gathered throughout the project will be of the highest quality”.

The photos below document the 4-stop tour to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, University of Bristol, UK, Charité University Hospital Berlin, and the Institute of Transplantation-Urology- Nephrology at Inserm in Nantes.

Stop one was at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with Diana Malata.

Stop two was at the Department of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol with Gemma Brimson.

During stop three at Charité University Hospital Berlin, Henrik reviewed the data with Prof Uwe Pleyer and VISICORT fellow Nina Steinhorst.

 

The last stop was in Nantes at Inserm’s Institute of Transplantation-Urology- Nephrology. Here, Henrik met with Bertrand Favres, and clinical nurses Catherine Ivan and Adeline Chenu.

Peadar Mac Gabhann, Biostór presents the VISICORT concept and best practices

Peadar Mac Gabhann

Peadar Mac Gabhann, Managing Director of Biostór Ireland located in Wexford, Ireland will take VISICORT on the international circuit in 2018 to present the project at several interesting, high profile conferences.

The World Biobanking Summit will be held on the 8th and 9th of March 2018 in Berlin. Peadar presents a case study entitled “Cloud-based Sample Management”. For the entire conference programme, click here.

The 8th annual Biobanking Conference will be held in London on the 13th and 14th of June 2018. The meeting will bring together internationally recognised biorepositories, scientific pioneers from pharmaceutical companies, and academics to strengthen current knowledge in biosample management and their research applications. VISICORT will be presented here. The final programme has not yet been released but for more information, click here.

Finally, Peadar will present ‘VISICORT- a Case Study in Management of a Multi-centre Clinical study in Corneal Transplantation’ at the Biobanking and Regenerative Medicine Congress, 1-2 November 2018 in London. For more information and to register, visit here.

VISICORT publishes in Frontiers in Immunology

The paper ‘Anti-Donor Immune Responses Elicited by Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Their Extracellular Vesicles: Are We Still Learning?’ is based on the work of Dr Paul Lohan, Dr Oliver Treacy, Prof Matthew Griffin, Prof Thomas Ritter and Dr Aideen Ryan of the National University of Ireland Galway. The publication appears in the November 24, 2017, edition of Frontiers in Immunology. This research was funded by VISICORT, amongst other sources. Read the entire manuscript here.

Front. Immunol., 24 November 2017

https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01626

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

Biostór Director Peadar Mac Gabhann presents VISICORT at Biobanking conference, London

The 7th annual BioBanking conference on took place on the 14th and 15th of June 2017 in Central London, UK. The meeting brought together Europe’s leading biorepositories, regulatory representatives and scientific pioneers to strengthen knowledge in biosample management and explore future advances in areas such as mobile bio-banking and cloud-based sample management. Understanding the ethical and regulatory framework as well as the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on collaborative science in Europe was a major focus of the conference. Biostór Ireland Director Peadar Mac Gabhann presented VISICORT as a case study: ‘Cloud-based Sample Management of Multi-Centre Clinical Trial in Corneal Transplant’.

Prof Pleyer, Charité presents VISICORT at DOG 2017 conference, Berlin

The 115th Deutsche Ophthalmologishe Gesellschaft (DOG) conference was held in Berlin from 28 September – 1 October 2017. Here, Prof Uwe Pleyer of Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin co-chaired the ‘Germany goes to Europe: European Research Consortia with German participation’ session. VISICORT was presented by Prof Pleyer during this session which highlighted five projects funded by the European Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Malcolm Walkinshaw, SynthSys, Edinburgh

Malcolm WALKINSHAW

Dr Malcolm Walkinshaw, of SynthSys, Edinburgh joins the VISICORT project.

Dr Walkinshaw obtained his PhD in physical chemistry at Edinburgh University. After post-doc positions in Purdue and Gottingen he joined the Swiss company Sandoz (now Novartis) where he built and led a successful 25 person strong ‘Drug Discovery Group’ which made important contributions to understanding the mode of action of immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporin. On taking up the Chair of Structural Biochemistry at the University of Edinburgh he founded the ‘Structural Biochemistry Group’ which later became part of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology. In 2007 with funding from the Wellcome Trust and BBSRC he founded the Centre for Translational and Chemical Biology which continues to provide world-class facilities for protein production. One major research theme has been around the enzymes of the glycolytic pathway as potential anti-parasitic drug targets. This work has led to the development of potent nanomolar inhibitors that kill trypanosomal parasites quickly and can cure mice infected with Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness.  Walkinshaw has published over 250 papers and has over 9000 citations.

SynthSys, University of Edinburgh (SYNT), The Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology is a research centre of the University of Edinburgh, UK which is composed of a multi-disciplinary team of experimentalists (molecular biologists, biochemists, chemists) and modellers (mathematicians, computational modellers, and software developers) working together to gain a better understanding of the nature of various biological systems. One component of SynthSys is the Kinetic Parameter Facility (KPF). This facility is a core experimental resource containing state-of-the-art equipment which is used to generate kinetic parameter data that is subsequently used to feed into mathematical models. Among the different experimental strategies, quantitative proteomics is a largely employed approach.

The main quantitative proteomics expertise developed in the lab is based on a label-free LC-MS/MS strategy which can be used with a wide variety of biological samples including tissue or fluid for biomarker discovery. In contrast to other quantitative proteomics approaches, the label-free quantitation enables a large-scale experimental design. Therefore, it allows for the comparison of large sample groups under various conditions.

SynthSys has an established collaboration with FIOS for large-scale data analysis and also has an on-going collaboration with research groups with specific clinical interests such the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology and Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems. Over the past 5 years, SynthSys has successfully performed a wide variety of diverse quantitative proteomics studies.

 

VISICORT will present at EU-MSC2 meeting in Leiden in September

Hosted by Leiden University Medical Center, the EU MSC2 2017 meeting in Leiden, NL on September 12th and 13th will assemble twelve EU-funded, mesenchymal stromal cell-focussed consortia. Projects to be presented include: REDDSTARREACHRETHRIM, Stellar, MERLINNephstromSCIENCEVISICORT and Adipoa-2AUTOSTEMBOOSTB4, SEPCELL, RESSTORE, and RESPINE. This two day, interactive meeting will be held at the Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden. Three overarching aspects of the EU-MSC2 meeting include: mechanisms of action and potency assays; an interactive panel discussion on product development, and product development and market authorisation in a changing regulatory landscape.

The objectives of the meeting are to:

  • Enhance knowledge-sharing between EU research groups working in the mesenchymal stromal cell biology domain
  • Engage with European Commission Project Officers and other stakeholders from International Society of Cellular Therapy, stem cell ethicists and the European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  • Assemble trans-disciplinary research groups working across the global health spectrum but with a common focus of mesenchymal stromal cell biology
  • Bring up-and-coming researchers together for networking purposes, and to explore future consortium building and international funding application opportunities

Expected impacts and outcomes:

  • Provide opportunities to develop new mesenchymal stromal cell networks
  • Disseminate the findings and challenges between MSC-focussed consortia
  • Improve the communication potential of research, outcomes and the value of the research
  • Explore potential for new commercial technologies
  • Collectively enhance the quality and impact of planned clinical trials

These EU-funded projects are:

  • Improving the quality of life for European citizens
  • Progressing the clinical translation of MSC research and developments

For more information, please visit EU MSC2 2017.
Register via Eventbrite by August 14 2017.
Read the EU-MSC2 2015 meeting report here.

VISICORT at the 7th International Biobanking Summit

Biostór Ireland’s Peadar Mac Gabhann presented the VISICORT Biorepository at the 7th International Biobanking Summit in London on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Paul Lohan presents on MSC cell therapy in high risk cornea transplantation

VISICORT researcher Dr Paul Lohan presented his work on MSC cell therapy in high risk cornea transplantation at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) seminar which took place in the Biomedical Sciences Building NUI Galway on Thursday 8th June. The seminar was attended by research scientists and principal investigators.