Prof Ritter presents at ARVO 2019, Canada

VISICORT PI Prof Thomas Ritter of the NUI Galway presented at the recent Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. Thomas’ abstract, “Subconjunctival injection of low-dose mesenchymal stem cells promotes corneal allograft survival in a mouse cornea transplantation model” was presented Wednesday, May 1st during the “Corneal Neuropathy and Neovascularisation” session of the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting which took place from April 28 – May 2, 2019.

The theme for the 2019 AVRO meeting was “From bench to bedside and back”.

PI Conor Murphy presents VISICORT at Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital

VISICORT PI Prof and Consultant Ophthalmologist Conor C. Murphy of the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) presented “What’s new (and old) in corneal transplantation” on the 5th of April 2019. The audience included a group of 40 surgical theatre nurses at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin. The VISICORT project concept and clinical trial were presented in slides 45-49.

Conor’s presentation can be viewed here.

VISICORT presentation in Berlin aims to recruit potential patients to the clinical trial

VISICORT PI Uwe Pleyer at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin organized a seminar entitled “Autologe Stammzelltherapie zur Prophylaxe der Immunreaktion bei Risikokeratoplastik”. The Anterior Segment Symposium on April 27th, 2019 in Berlin included a presentation on the VISICORT project with the aim to recruit potential patients for the Phase 1 trial.


Pictured above Prof. Dr Rieck and Prof. Dr Uwe Pleyer

VISICORT PI Nico Degauque, INSERM presents at Swedish Registry for Corneal Transplant

VISICORT PI Nicolas Degauque from INSERM in Nantes was an invited speaker at the annual meeting for participants in the Swedish Registry for Corneal Transplant which for many years have served as the registry for all Swedish and Danish patients undergoing corneal transplantation. The meeting took place at Riksgränsen at the very north of Sweden on April 11, 2019. Through Nico’s talk entitled “Innate-like functions of human TEMRA CD8 and their involvement in kidney allograft outcome”, he presented the recent advances in identifying biomarkers for transplant survival learned from kidney transplantations. It is the hope that the extension of these studies can provide biomarkers for corneal transplant survival.

The meeting was attended by VISICORT partners John Armitage from the University of Bristol and Jesper Hjortdal, Aarhus University Hospital.


Partners at CCMI offer training workshops

Our partners at the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) based at the National University of Ireland Galway have organized a workshop series:  “Selection, Validation and Implementation of Rapid Microbiological Methods for ATMPs“. This event will take place in Galway, Ireland on the 12th and 13th of June 2019.

For more information, download the flyer here.

VISICORT trial news announced in ARM March newsletter

The Alliance for Regenerative Medicine’s March 14, 2019 newsletter included a recent update on the VISICORT clinical trial regulatory approval. You can read the piece in the newsletter’s Clinical Updates section.

VISICORT consortium meeting, Galway

The month 60 VISICORT plenary meeting was hosted by the National University of Ireland Galway on March 13 and 14, 2019. The 2.5-day meeting included a work package update from each partner and round table discussions to drive the project results forward.

A Memorandum of Understanding to establish the VISICORT Virtual Research Community was signed by members in attendance.

Special thanks to Dr Rita Lawlor, Biobank and Model Bank Director and Research Coordinator at ARC-NET (Applied Research on Cancer Network) at the University of Verona. Rita is a member of VISICORT’s External Advisory Group. Rita’s input to the meeting was highly valuable and much appreciated by all partners.

VISICORT Clinical Trial is now fully approved and ready for launch!

The VISICORT project has reached an exciting milestone having recently received regulatory and ethical approval to proceed with the first clinical trial of a cell therapy in high-risk corneal transplantation.

To prepare for the launch of the trial, Prof. Matthew Griffin, Prof. Thomas Ritter, Dr. Siobhan Gaughan and Ms Aoife Duffy of NUI Galway, Ireland and Mr. Peadar Mac Gabhann of Biostór Ireland Ltd. visited the CHARITÉ RESEARCH ORGANISATION (CRO), in Berlin on Thursday 28th February 2019 (see picture)  The meeting was hosted by the CRO clinical trial team of Dr. Andreas Hüser, Dr. Rita Hertrampf, Ms Juliane Schnorr, Dr. Maximilian Posch and Ms. Jeanette Lehmann and by Prof. Uwe Pleyer of the Department of Ophthalmology, Charité University Medical Centre, who will be the principal investigator for the trial.

The VISICORT trial will be a Phase 1B clinical trial to test the safety and feasibility of intravenous allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells (allo-MSC) as an immunotherapy for  patients receiving a second or greater full-thickness corneal transplant who are at high risk of rejection. If the trial demonstrates that allo-MSC therapy is well tolerated in high-risk corneal transplant recipients, it will open the door to a Phase 2 trial to more clearly test its potential to reduce the occurrence of rejection and promote the long-term survival of repeat corneal transplant.

Fittingly, the trial will be carried out at Charité University where some of the most important early  advances in the treatment of eye disease were made by the pioneering ophthalmologist, Prof. Albrecht von Graefe, in the 19th century (see photo below).   

During the meeting, the VISICORT partners discussed and agreed on many of the organisational details of the trial and developed a time-line for allo-MSC manufacture and patient enrolment over the next year. The VISICORT clinical trial team are looking forward to meeting up again for further discussions with the entire consortium at a Plenary Meeting which will be held in Galway on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th March 2019.

VISICORT at Biobanking Summit 2019

Managing Director of Biostór Ireland Peadar MacGabhann will present “Establishment Of The VISICORT Foundation Biobank For Eye Disease” at the Biobanking Summit 2019 which will be held in Porto, Portugal on February 14th and 15th. Here, VISICORT Biobank brochures will be on hand for education and information, and to promote the use of it by researchers.

The Biobanking 2019 conference will bring together the world’s leading experts in biorepositories, policy makers, and scientific actors to strengthen knowledge in biobanking as well as explore future advances in the field of biosampling for precision medicine, drug development and health research.

Read the entire meeting agenda here.

VISICORT PI Prof John Armitage, University of Bristol has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours

Professor John Armitage, Emeritus Professor of Cryobiology in the Bristol Medical School and former Director of Bristol Tissue Bank, has been awarded an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to corneal transplantation.

With a PhD in cardiac cryopreservation, Professor Armitage set up the Bristol Eye Bank with Professor David Easty, then Head of Ophthalmology, and Professor Ben Bradley, former Medical Director of UK Transplant.

Since 1986 the Bristol Eye Bank has been a leader in corneal preservation and supply for transplantation around the UK, growing to become one of the largest of similar initiatives across Europe. Within the UK this transformed corneal transplantation from an out-of-hours emergency procedure to an elective operation that could be planned weeks in advance.

Professor Armitage, now part of the NHS, continues to lead research into corneal transplant outcomes and transplant immunology through the University of Bristol.

Speaking about his award, John commented: ‘I am truly delighted to have my work recognised in this way. The award also reflects the impact of the work by the Bristol Eye Bank and recognises the collective effort of Bristol University staff, ophthalmology colleagues in the Bristol Eye Hospital and collaborating organisations including NHS Blood and Transplant and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. However, above all, I must acknowledge the thoughtfulness and generosity of the families of eye donors, without whom tissue and organ transplantation would not be possible.’

More details can be found at: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2018/december/john-armitage.html