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 Coordinator Appointed to Head of Discipline of Medicine at NUI Galway

Matt Griffin has been Professor of Transplant Biology in NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and a Consultant Nephrologist at Galway University Hospitals since July 2008. He qualified in Medicine from University College Cork in 1988 and trained in General Medicine and Nephrology in Cork, Dublin and Mayo Clinic Rochester, USA between 1989 and 1997. He pursued a research fellowship in basic immunology at The University of Chicago before returning to join of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the William J von Liebig Transplant Center at Mayo Clinic in 1999 where he was a Consultant Nephrologist specialising in Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine before returning to Ireland.

His research programme has been funded by the NIH, SFI, HRB and the European Commission and is affiliated with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. His interests include basic and transplant immunology, clinical transplantation and immunosuppression, the pathophysiology of renal injury, diabetic kidney disease and stem cell and therapies. He has authored over 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts.

His educational and professional roles have included Director of Education for the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, standing member of two NIH study sections, Deputy Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Chair of the NUI Galway Animal Care Research Ethics Committee and Academic Lead for Final Medical Year Renal/Urology teaching modules. He has been a primary supervisor to over 50 postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers, many of whom are now academic clinicians and scientists.

NUI Galway Head of School of Medicine, Carmel Malone, MD officially welcomed Matt to the new role on 23 August 2017.

Pranali Sanghvi presents her VISICORT-guided research project

Pranali Sanghvi, a student at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway presented her work entitled, ‘Investigating the effects of different MSC therapies on immune cell infiltrates in allogeneic corneal transplants’ at the Regenerative Medicine Research Symposium held in the Biosciences Building at NUI Galway on 18 August 2017. Pranali’s project was supervised by VISICORT PI Prof Thomas Ritter, Dr Paul Lohan and NUI Galway PhD student Nick Murphy. This summer research project was part of the MSc. Regenerative Medicine, a 12-month taught course coordinated by Dr Linda Howard.

 

Dr Paul Lohan remarked: “Pranali worked for three months this summer to profile the localised immune response in pre-clinical transplant recipients treated with immunomodulatory stromal stem cells (iSSC). Pranali’s work in the lab contributed to the progress of the VISICORT project and she was a valuable addition to the research team”.

 

VISICORT Coordinator Prof. Griffin commented: “It has been a pleasure to have Pranali as part of our VISICORT team for the last 3 months. The Regenerative Medicine Masters programme at NUI Galway brings another dimension to our basic and translational research efforts at REMEDI. Each year we are fortunate to have outstanding students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds in science, medicine and engineering gain their first extensive research experiences with mentoring from REMEDI PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. For multi-disciplinary projects such as VISICORT, the participation of skilled and highly motivated Master’s students such as Pranali allows us to extend the overall scope of laboratory research related to key questions such as MSC mechanism of action.

 

Dr Howard thanked Prof Ritter and his research group for hosting and training Pranali during this project. The experience of working in an active research environment is invaluable for early stage researchers as they make decisions about their future career goals. Training the next generation of scientists is a important role for researchers and one that VISICORT scientists have clearly taken to heart. For more information on the course, click here.

Pranali Sanghvi VISICORT

VISICORT is presented at the START competition in May 2017, Galway

Does it help your fitness to have an event as a goal when you are training? Can cartoons and comics help children to achieve better results in tests? How would you even find out?

Dr Siobhán Gaughan, NUI Galway Programmme Manager of ADIPOA-2, VISICORT and AUTOSTEM was on hand at the awards ceremony for a schools’ competition called “START” whose aim was to encourage school students to come up with interesting questions and to design and run trials to answer them in a scientific way.

“It is one of the only initiatives out there that is teaching children about randomised trials,” says Dr Sandra Galvin, who co-ordinates the Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network, which runs the START initiative. “We need more people to participate in trials to improve healthcare, so there is that big important picture here, and it comes down to kids having fun and they take the message home.” For more information about taking part, see hrb-tmrn.ie/start-competition.

Siobhán created and managed a presentation area for the three projects, spoke to the school groups and visitors who were interested in the planned clinical trials for ADIPOA-2 and VISICORT taking place at NUI Galway’s Clinical Research Facility. A sister project, AUTOSTEM was also represented. This project is looking ahead of the clinical trials in order to meet the needs of the clinics in the future by developing automated cell factories to produce the vast quantities of cells which will be required should the clinical trials prove successful.

 

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.

VISICORT researchers present their work at ARVO

Dr Lohan with his poster at ARVO

Dr. Paul Lohan and Prof. Thomas Ritter from NUIGalway and Visicort partner Prof. Conor Murphy from RCSI in Dublin presented several posters at the ARVO 2017 Annual Meeting in Baltimore from May 7th to May 11th. More than 10,000 delegates around the world participated in the meeting which is the most important meeting on eye research showing latest research in eye research. Dr. Lohan’s poster on the establishment of a “high-risk” corneal transplant model in the rat and his work on modulating allograft rejection using mesenchymal stem cells was well received and many leaders in the field of ocular immunology visited the poster and asked interesting questions. Overall the meeting was a great success!

Prof. Ritter at ARVO