VISICORT FOUNDATION BIOBANK

Download the VISICORT Foundation Biobank brochure.

The VISICORT Foundation Biobank (VFB) project is a sustainable resource of bio-specimens to support future research in Eye Diseases. The VISICORT Foundation Biobank holds over 60,000 extensively curated bio-samples from over 1000 patients from 5 European Research Centres, stored at ultralow temperatures for preservation. The sample types include:

  • Plasma
  • Blood
  • Tears
  • DNA (PAXgene DNA)
  • RNA (80µl RNA Cryovial, PAXgene RNA)
  • Aqueous Humour
  • Donor Corneal Tissue
  • Recipient Corneal Tissue
  • Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells ( PBMCs ) Cryopreserved at -190C

All biospecimens have matched clinical data from 1,314 patients from the five different European Research Centres: Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark (AUH), Bristol Eye Hospital, UK (UBR), Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany (CUB), Nantes University Hospital – France (NANT), Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, Ireland (RCSI).

Further information on the available samples can be obtained by contacting info@biostor.eu. Alternatively, the biospecimens held in the VFB have been registered on The Scientist Web Portal, www.scientist.com, a global marketplace for the promotion of products and services to the international scientific community.

The remaining sample type and sample numbers currently stored (>50,000) in the VFB are described in the table below:

Sample TypeNumber
PBMC3,274
PAXgene DNA644
PAXgene RNA1,181
Aqueous Humour283
Donor Corneal Tissue744
80µl RNA Cryovial1
Recipient Corneal Tissue711
Tears1,482
Plasma35,351
Total50,271

Since 2014 VISICORT has profiled data and collected 50,000 bio-specimens from 1,300 Corneal Transplant Patients throughout Europe in three clinical studies to uniquely link their biological profiles with current and future transplant outcomes to determine better transplant results.

These accurately collected, highly controlled samples with associated clinical data represent a valuable and unique resource for investigating the mechanisms of corneal eye disease. No other biobank of its type exists in the world and the VFB is carefully maintained for future research and the benefit of mankind.

Sample Collection & Quality:

A major emphasis has been placed on sample quality throughout all aspects of the clinical studies. To ensure uniformity in sample collection kits, Biostór Ireland acquired and assembled kit components, managing aspects such as expiry dates. Kits were centrally assembled at Biostór Ireland and shipped to clinical investigator sites. This ensured each site continuously had a supply of all required collection tubes when they were needed.

VISICORT sampling kit
VISICORT sampling kit

VISICORT Information Management System (VIMS)

 
Barcode scanner

Prior to the commencement of all clinical studies, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed and training programmes provided as to standardise donation, procurement, processing and preservation processes across the 5 European Research Centres.

In addition, a cloud-based sample management system utilising 2D barcoded, SBS-formatted sampling tubes was designed and implemented across all partner organisations. The system utilised a custom workflow whereby all steps were enforced to ensure site-to-site consistency in sample donation, procurement, processing, preservation and storage.

A custom workflow and secure database, the VISICORT Information Management System (VIMS), was collaboratively designed by project partners Biostór Ireland Ltd., https://mastercellbank.com/ and Aarhus University Hospital Denmark. The system was subsequently honed and put into practice by clinical researchers, nurse specialists, opticians and academic ophthalmologists and VISICORT partner sites in Dublin, Ireland; Bristol, UK; Nantes, France; Berlin, Germany and Aarhus, Denmark. VIMS enables tracked sample collection, processing and storage, and is linked to clinical features relating to the samples.

Biostór Ireland successfully fulfilled all sample requests through the cloud-based system and arranged delivery to multiple EU-based research laboratories under controlled cold-chain conditions.

Importance of the VISICORT Foundation Biobank (VFB)

The outcomes of the VISICORT project will impact other EU-funded projects, especially the European Cornea and Cell Transplantation Registry (ECCTR). The objectives of the ECCTR is to build a common assessment methodology and establish an EU web-based registry and network for academics, health professionals and authorities to assess and verify the safety quality and efficacy of (new) human tissue transplantations and cell-based therapies in ophthalmic surgery. The clinical definitions from the VISICORT project have been mostly implemented in the ECCTR. The findings in the VISICORT project will potentially generate hypotheses, which can be tested on the large number of patients entering the ECCTR. Similarly, the ECCTR will, without doubt, create findings, which can be explored further using the biological samples collected in the VISCORT project.

The clinical data and VFB samples collected in the prospective clinical study have major implications for future research to determine immune signatures of adverse events in patients with corneal transplantation and for future transcriptomic, proteomic and flow cytometric studies. In addition, these VFB samples will also be central to the clinical trial underway and serve as a “historical” control for comparison to stem cell recipients and for peripheral blood immune assays, transcriptomic and proteomic profiles of prospectively followed human FT- and PL-CT recipients and in the development of biomarker panels and immunoassays (and methods of detection) which will reliably diagnose or predict risk for rejection and other adverse events in most CT recipients. Without clinically-annotated biospecimens for adverse immune response, identification of biomarkers and intervention at a preventative stage is not possible.

The VISICORT prospective study is unique, and all clinical experts agree on the need to continue the clinical follow-up of the recruited patients beyond the end of the VISICORT project. Currently, new investigations are underway or being planned for the next 3-5 years and have started to obtain new ethical approvals from their ethics committees at the five clinical centres in order to utilise the clinical data in VIMS and the samples residing in the VFB.