New VISICORT publication in Kidney360 journal

Congratulations to LaTonya J. Hickson, Sandra M. Herrmann, Bairbre A. McNicholas and Matthew D. Griffin on their recent paperProgress toward the clinical application of mesenchymal stromal cells and other disease-modulating regenerative therapies. The paper was published online in Kidney360 yesterday, January 27, 2021.

Reference: Kidney360 January 2021, 10.34067/KID.0005692020; DOI: https://doi.org/10.34067/KID.0005692020. Download the pdf here.

Trio of VISICORT PIs will present at 2021 CDx Biomarkers and Biobanking BioTec Pharma Summit

A trio of VISICORT PIs is set to present their work at the September 28-28, 2021 CDx Biomarkers and Biobanking BioTech Pharma Summit in Porto, Portugal.

Dr Sophie Brouard, Team Leader, Director of Research at CNRS, INSERM will present a talk entitled: Immunological signatures as biomarkers in corneal transplantation.

Prof of Transplant Biology at NUI Galway, Matthew Griffin, VISICORT Coordinator will deliver a talk entitled: Biomarkers in transplantation.

Peadar Mac Gabhann, Managing Director at Biostór Ireland will present: The VISICORT Foundation Biobank.

See the complete list of conference speakers here.

VISICORT consortium meets on November 27, 2020

VISICORT partners met on Friday, November 27, 2020, for an online plenary meeting. All work packages were presented and plans were drawn up on what needs to occur in the remaining 4 months of the project. Major discussion points focussed on biomarker and immunological findings, the follow-up data collection for the prospective and clinical variable studies, final reporting, the status of the VISICORT biobank, the clinical trial and cell product development, and the progress with the EPIMINUE collaboration.

Corneal Transplant Follow-up Study II (CTFS II) – Does tissue matching reduce the risk of rejection in corneal transplants?

VISICORT receives a 6-month extension

We are pleased to report that VISICORT has been granted a 6-month no-cost extension from the European Commission to continue the project’s ongoing major research activities following delays caused by the COVID19 pandemic. This extension will provide the consortium with additional time for data collection and analysis from our three multi-centre clinical studies which are analysing bio-samples and clinical outcomes from more than 700 human subjects and for the manufacture of allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells for the initiation of the VISICORT clinical trial to be conducted at Charité University Hospital and Charité Research Organisation in Berlin. The new end-date for VISICORT FP7-funded research is March 31st 2021. The consortium is also pursuing future funding opportunities to build new innovative and collaborative projects in the areas of corneal transplantation and corneal diseases.

2020 COP&S conference coordinated by VISICORT PI Dr Bertrand Fabres slated for November 12 & 13th

COP&S meeting, November 12th & 13th, 2020 in Tours

The COrnée Practique & Scientifique (COP & S) meeting for ophthalmologists involved in cornea practice, and eye banking, will take place on November 12th and 13th, 2020 in Tours, France. The meeting consists of lectures, panel discussions, surgical videos, and satellite symposia.

The two-day meeting is being co-coordinated by VISICORT PI Dr Bertrand Fabres based at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nantes of INSERM. On the second day, Dr Fabres will moderate a session titled: Corneal transplant, a story of donor-recipient encounter 1. During this session, he will present “Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty.”

See the here for the preliminary programme.

VISICORT presented at Ophthalmology changing event, Berlin

On Saturday, August 15, 2020, in Berlin, a simultaneous face-to-face and virtual event occurred which involved 300 ophthalmologists! Hosted by the Eye Clinic at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the theme of the event was Ophthalmology changing. The face-to-face portion of the event took place at the STATION Berlin conference centre.

In the second session of the one-day event, VISICORT was presented and acknowledged by private lecturer Dr Tina Dietrich during her talk entitled: “Update transplant immunology – implication for perforating keratoplasty DMEK”. VISICORT PI Prof Dr Uwe Pleyer presented “Therapy of Immune-Mediated Diseases: From Steroid to Biological” and also chaired the third session of the day.

Read the entire detailed programme here.


National Eye Research Centre, U.K. funds VISICORT exploitation research

VISICORT PIs Professors Malcolm Walkinshaw (University of Edinburgh) and Conor Murphy (RCSI, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and Dr Karl Burgess and Lisa Imrie were recently awarded funding (£66,500) from the National Eye Research Centre (U.K.), (NERC) for the research project: A Multi-omics approach to eye tissue characterisation in Keratoconus & Fuch’s Dystrophy patients. Congratulations to the team and in particular to Lisa who has pioneered the use of a multi-omics approach in analysing eye tissues.

The fully-funded PhD project will examine two common conditions affecting the cornea – keratoconus and Fuch’s endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD). Lisa, a proteomics specialist will identify families of proteins, lipids, and metabolites (“multi-omics”) using mass spectrometry – an instrumental method looking at the chemical composition of substances. Analysing different eye tissue samples from the same patient at different time points will allow for a better understanding of how these diseases develop and progress. The research will benefit from access to a collection of more than 3000 biosamples from people with either keratoconus or FECD that have been enrolled in the VISICORT cross-sectional analysis study, where the different eye tissues have been stored and linked to a clinical database with detailed information about each patient.

“It is really gratifying to see how the VISICORT project has led to the development of a new and exciting approach for analysing the invaluable collection of our biological samples. We can look forward to being able to identify important new and medically important biomarkers from Lisa’s VISICORT-inspired PhD.”

Professor Malcolm Walkinshaw, University of Edinburgh

The 3-year project will also draw upon the VISICORT network of clinical and scientific experts in the field of corneal disease. This work will identify signalling and metabolic pathways that are clearly implicated in keratoconus and FECD disease aetiology. Lisa aims to get started on October 1, 2020.

NERC, the National Eye Research Centre (https://www.nercuk.org/) is a charitable incorporated organisation and community of donors, volunteers, researchers, healthcare professionals, and fundraisers working together towards a common goal of beating sight loss forever. They fund pioneering research into the causes of eye disease to develop better prevention methods and more effective treatments for children and adults. NERC has been able to invest over £17 million in research projects that are bringing scientists ever closer to answering some of the most fundamental questions about eye health and eye disease.

VISICORT PI Prof Sophie Brouard wins prestigious CNRS 2020 Innovation Medal

Sophie Brouard: finding industrial applications for innovations against graft rejection

Sophie Brouard est lauréate de la médaille de l’Innovation du CNRS 2020. Directrice de recherche au Centre de recherche en transplantation et immunologie (CRTI, INSERM/CHU de Nantes/Université de Nantes/ITUN).

Since 2011, the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) Innovation Medal rewards figures whose exceptional research work has led to groundbreaking innovation in the technological, economic, therapeutic, and social fields. Our PI Professor Sophie Brouard, of INSERM was one of four 2020 recipients. The career paths of CNRS 2020 Innovation medallists illustrate the quality, variety, and wealth of research conducted at the CNRS, as well as the different ways of finding applications for it. “Scientists who wish to transfer their results to the broader social and business world can now rely on a wide range of support mechanisms set up by the CNRS in recent years,” points out the organisation’s Deputy CEO for Innovation Jean Luc Moullet. The four 2020 medallists are also proof that research, however basic, can lead to the emergence of companies and enable transfers towards the business world.

A veterinarian by training, Sophie Brouard gradually became interested in the problem of graft rejection in kidney and lung transplants. She currently serves as a CNRS research professor at the CRTI (Centre de recherche en transplantation et immunologie – Université de Nantes/Inserm/ITUN/CHU de Nantes), and focuses on alleviating the burden of heavy anti-rejection treatments, which cause numerous side effects. “With my medical and veterinary training, I have always needed to know what applications my research will find,” she stresses. It was originally while looking at the few kidney transplant patients who could forgo treatment that she revealed the B-lymphocyte regulation phenomena and explored the mechanisms through which it occurs, with a view to a possible therapy. Part of her research is also dedicated to identifying biomarkers to evaluate, predict, and diagnose the risk of kidney or lung graft rejection, in an effort to better anticipate and adapt treatments. With her knowledge of the needs of industry and technology transfer players, she has used her work to meet the needs of companies. With 163 scientific publications and 13 patents under her belt, she believes it is important to emphasise that “research is conducted by a team“. In partnership with academic colleagues, she has launched two start-ups, TcLand Expression and Effimune, which became OSE Immunotherapeutics, to develop therapeutic tools in various research fields related to cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Read the full press release from CNRS here.