Regenerative Medicine Network publishes EU-MSC2 meeting report featuring VISICORT

VISICORT results were presented at EU-MSC2,  a bi-annual event, organized by the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands. The meeting assembles researchers, clinicians and cell product developers working within EU-sponsored research consortia, that focus on mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) therapy for immune-related disorders and tissue regeneration. EU-MSC2, a much-anticipated event provides excellent opportunities for networking, exploring new funding opportunities and the dissemination of results contributing to MSC knowledge-sharing, research and development.

VISICORT Coordinator Professor Matthew Griffin, of the National University of Ireland Galway, presented VISICORT’s clinical trial in his September 5, 2019 talk entitled:   A phase 1 clinical trial of allogeneic MSC in corneal re- transplant recipients: from pre-clinical evidence to regulatory approval.

The comprehensive meeting report prepared by Katerina Apelt, Brigitte Wieles and Melissa van Pel of LUMC was published on April 29th, 2020, by the Regenerative Medicine Network.  Read it here.

Message from Coordinator Prof Matt Griffin

Thank you for your interest in our research project and the VISICORT results.

Our international consortium is fully aware that the current situation regarding the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is having a significant impact on the research and innovation community. We anticipate that the precise nature of these impacts may evolve over the coming weeks and months. While we continue to actively work together on all aspects of the VISICORT research programme, some aspects of the project may be slowed as a result of the practical measures taken to contain the COVID virus.

Our institutions’ shared priority is the safety and wellbeing of people, including our own research teams and our patients who have contributed to the project.

On an ongoing basis, we are working to understand the nature of any impacts on VISICORT’s progress and to develop contingency plans toward achieving our goals and stimulating further research to improve the outcomes for corneal transplant recipients.

Prof Matthew Griffin, NUI Galway

Three new papers attributed to VISICORT!

VISICORT Coordinator Prof Matthew Griffin of the National University of Ireland Galway has recently published three papers acknowledging VISICORT work and funding:

  • Fazekas B and Griffin MD. “Mesenchymal stromal cell-based therapies for acute kidney injury: Progress in the last decade”, Kidney International, In Press, 2020 (Review). 28 January 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2019.12.019 Pre-proof available here
  • Swaminathan S and Griffin MD. Editorial: “Innovative biologics and drugs to target renal inflammation”, Frontiers Renal Pharmacol, In Press, 2020  DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00038 Read the full article here.
  • Negi N and Griffin MD. “Effects of mesenchymal stromal cells on regulatory T cells: Current understanding and clinical relevance”. Stem Cells, In Press, 29 January 2020 (Review). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/stem.3151  Download the pdf here.

Congratulations to Matt and his international colleagues!

Read the growing list of VISICORT publications here: http://visicort.eu/project-2/publications/

NUI Galway team publishes VISICORT-acknowledged study

The team of Tomás Patrick Griffin, Md Nahidul Islam, Deirdre Wall, John Ferguson, Damian Gerard Griffin, Matthew Dallas Griffin and Paula M. O’Shea from NUI Galway recently published “Plasma dephosphorylated uncarboxylated Matrix Gla-Protein (dp-ucMGP): reference intervals in Caucasian adults and diabetic kidney disease biomarker potential” in the December 2019 edition of the open-access journal Scientific Reports.

Congratulations to all authors!

VISICORT consortium meets in Amsterdam

On December 5, 2019, the VISICORT consortium under the leadership of Prof Matthew Griffin at the National University of Ireland Galway met for its final plenary meeting. In Amsterdam for convenience, the partners assembled to share research updates and the progress of the cell manufacturing and clinical trial and to federate its Memorandum of Understanding to exploit VISICORT results and the consortium’s shared expertise into the future. The VISICORT Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement to establish the terms of interaction, use and responsibility of a Virtual Research Community, and to cement our willingness to work together as possibilities arise in the future.

Our meeting in Amsterdam provided an excellent opportunity to review progress in tracking the clinical outcomes of low and high risk corneal transplant recipients who have participated in the VISICORT longitudinal follow-up study over the past 4 years in Aarhus, Dublin, Berlin, Bristol and Nantes. Linked to the large amount of immune profiling data that has been generated by our laboratory research partners in Edinburgh and Nantes for these same patients with support from the VISICORT Foundation Biobank at Biostor Ireland Ltd., these clinical outcomes will now allow us to explore the immunological signals of rejection and other complications of corneal transplantation in a unique manner. The meeting also provided a forum for discussing new and future projects that will leverage the VISICORT clinical and biological resources and for reviewing progress toward cell manufacture for the VISICORT clinical trial of mesenchymal stromal cells in high risk corneal transplant recipients.

VISICORT coordinator, Prof. Matthew Griffin of the National University of Ireland’s Regenerative Medicine Institute.

The VISICORT consortium, Amsterdam, December 5, 2019

Prof Dr Uwe Pleyer, Charité presents VISICORT at IOIS 2019 meeting in Taiwan

Prof Dr Uwe Pleyer of Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin  moderated two sessions at the International Ocular Inflammation Society (IOIS) meeting 2019 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: “Immunology of Cornea/Sclera– update in diagnosis and therapy” and the “Minimum Clinical Datasets in Uveitis – What is this and do we need it?” The meeting took place on November 13- 16, 2019.

Pictured: Prof Dr. Uwe Pleyer, Charite, third from left.


In addition, Uwe presented a talk entitled: “The role of immune-modulatory stromal cell therapy in prevention of corneal graft rejection” wherein VISICORT was presented on Saturday, November 16th. Download the IOIS meeting programme 2019 here.

The International Ocular Inflammation Society (IOIS) is an independent scientific society, interested in the study of ocular inflammatory diseases. It aims to create a comprehensive platform for ocular inflammations and infections.

New VISICORT-acknowledged publication from NUI Galway

“Human mesenchymal stromal cells broadly modulate high glucose-induced inflammatory responses of renal proximal tubular cell monolayers” authored by Md Nahidul Islam, Tomás P. Griffin, Elizabeth Sander, Stephanie Rocks, Junaid Qazi, Joana Cabral, Jasmin McCaul, Tara McMorrow and VISICORT Coordinator Prof Matthew D. Griffin at NUI Galway was published today, the 19th of November 2019. The open-access paper appears in Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2019) 10:329, DOI: 10.1186/s13287-019-1424-5 . Download the pdf here.

VISICORT coordinator Prof. Matt Griffin visits leading US medical centre Mayo Clinic to discuss EU-funded mesenchymal stromal cell projects

Prof. Matt Griffin of the National University of Ireland Galway visited the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the William J von Liebig Transplant Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota between September 27th and October 2nd 2019. While there, he engaged with clinical investigators involved in a range of Mayo Clinic research initiatives in regenerative medicine and transplantation. He gave seminars entitled “Allogeneic MSC in Corneal Re-transplantation: From Pre-clinical Evidence to Regulatory Approval” and “Modulating the course of diabetic kidney disease: Are the pieces coming together?” which focussed on the progress of the NUI Galway-coordinated VISICORT and NEPHSTROM (www.nephstrom.eu) consortia respectively. 

Commenting on the visit, Prof. Griffin, who trained and was a faculty member at Mayo Clinic between 1992 and 2008 said: “There are many shared interests and collaborative links between leading academic centres in the US such as Mayo Clinic and European Commission-funded consortia such as VISICORT and NEPHSTROM. Looking ahead to the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, I believe that there will be exciting opportunities to further strengthen these links in the areas of regenerative medicine and cellular therapies for the long-term benefit of people with reduced quality of life due to chronic health conditions.”  

VISICORT PIs chair sessions at EVER 2019 in Nice

PIS Profs Jester Hjortdal and Uwe Pleyer present at EVER 2019 in Nice

The European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER) 2019 meeting was held in Nice, France on October 17th- 19th. VISICORT PIs Prof Uwe Pleyer of Charité and Prof Jesper Hjortdal of Aarhus University Hospital were in attendance and very active. VISICORT was represented and acknowledged in several sessions.

On Saturday, October 19th Prof Pleyer co-chaired a session “Cornea immunology: current understanding and window”, gave talks entitled “Immune modulation following keratoplasty – current and future aspects of opportunities” and ” Immune modulation following keratoplasty – Current and future aspects”, and co-chaired the immunology poster session. These sessions provided an up-to-date overview of the clinically relevant immune mechanisms in host defence, wound healing and response following transplantation.

Also, on October 19th, Prof Jesper Hjortdal co-chaired the session “Advances in Corneal Regenerative Therapies: Results from the EU Horizon2020 Project ARREST BLINDNESS”. ARREST BLINDNESS, one of VISICORT’s “Related Projects” was the first cornea research project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 program, with the goal of developing advanced next-generation corneal regenerative and restorative therapies, offering hope to patients where no suitable therapy exists. The project started in 2016 and runs until the end of 2019. In this symposium, the major achievements of the project will be described, with each talk representing a distinct work package within the project, targeting a specific cause of corneal blindness. The results demonstrate the concrete advancements that have been made over the past four years, to bring new advanced therapies closer to widespread clinical adoption.

The Ophthalmology world is fast-evolving and requires keen cooperation and harmonization between research, device innovations, and technical refinements. The European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER) aims to encourage the different aspects of research –basic, clinical and translational- concerning the eye and vision, and to promote mutual collaboration between different specialists and institutes involved in this field by means of publications, exchange of information.

VISICORT meeting with Epimune Diagnostics


Epimune (www.epimune-dx.com) and the VISICORT Consortium are interested in entering into a collaboration in the field of diagnosis and monitoring of corneal transplant recipients using epigenetic immune cell quantification. The goal of the collaboration is the exploration of epigenetic immune cell quantification to monitor patients after corneal transplantation and to detect (and potentially predict) adverse events earlier than with currently available methods.

The face to face meeting on Tuesday 10th October 2019 with Dr Christoph Sachsenmeier from Epimune Diagnostics was an opportunity to discuss the collaboration further and to explore new collaborations within the diabetic kidney and ophthalmology research areas.

Pictured L to R: Matt Griffin, Conor Murphy, Joan Ní Gabhann, Christoph Sachsenmeier and Diana Malata at the RCSI, Dublin

Attendees included VISICORT Coordinator Prof. Matt Griffin and Dr Siobhán Gaughan from NUI Galway, VISICORT team members from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland PI Prof. Conor Murphy, Dr Joan Ní Gabhann and Diana Malata of the RCSI, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Dr Christoph Sachsenmeier, the VP Business Development at Epimune.

Epimune’s goal is to revolutionize diagnosis and monitoring of patients with disorders of the immune system.  Epimune develops in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests using proprietary epigenetic immune cell quantification technology (Baron et al., 2018). This approach allows for broad immune cell profiling from minute sample amounts (e.g. blood – fresh/frozen/dried; other bodily fluids; tissue). Epimune uses proprietary real-time PCR-based assays for quantification of more than 20 different immune cell types.