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Nuacht agus Imeachtaí

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Orbsen Therapeutics’ Stromal Cell Immunotherapy Assessed as Therapy for Patients with ARDS caused by Coronavirus

Orbsen Therapeutics, a NUI Galway biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class stromal cell immunotherapies, announced the beginning of a phase 2a clinical trial for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients. Between 80-90% of COVID19 deaths are caused by acute respiratory failure. In hyper-inflammed diseases like COVID19 induced ARDS, stromal cell immunotherapy may work by pushing the overactive immune system into initiating a pro-resolving and anti-inflammatory response. In pre-clinical studies led and published by Professor John Laffey at NUI Galway ORBCEL demonstrated the ability to mitigate the effects of pneumonia induced ARDS by improving lung oxygenation, reducing inflammation, reducing oedema and decreasing bacterial infection. This trial of its second-generation immunotherapy, ORBCEL, follows the recent successful completion of a phase 1 trial in 2019 in patients with moderate-severe ARDS. The phase 2a trial, funded by the Wellcome Trust, has been approved by the UK’s Medical Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and REALIST has been identified by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as a National Urgent Public Health study. Professors Danny McAuley and Cecilia O’Kane at the UK’s Queen’s University Belfast, are leaders in the development and delivery of new medicines for critical care and ARDS and lead the trial which will includes five clinical sites in the United Kingdom. A recent statement from the four UK Chief Medical Officers outlined the importance of clinical trials amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Profssor Cecilia O’Kane – who leads the REALIST program highlighted:e “It is only through clinical trials will we be able to determine if new treatments are effective and safe in critically ill patients.” “The successful completion of ORBCEL’s phase 1 clinical trial confirms our belief in the potential of Orbsen's proprietary stromal cell immunotherapy technologies,” said Dr Larry Couture, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics. “We believe ORBCEL will prove a valuable addition to the arsenal of therapies to combat the effects of COVID-19.” Orbsen CSO Dr Steve Elliman noted: “While there are over 100 vaccines & therapies in development targeting the SARS-CoV-2 infection - at present there are no disease modifying therapies approved for ARDS.  We’re delighted the REALIST trial was approved & listed by UK NIHR as an Urgent Public Health Research Study so we can continue assess the potential of our ORBCEL-C therapy in patients with ARDS and contribute to the global response to the COVID19 pandemic.” In pre-clinical studies led and published by Professor John Laffey at NUI Galway ORBCEL demonstrated the ability to mitigate the effects of pneumonia induced ARDS by improving lung oxygenation, reducing inflammation, reducing oedema and decreasing bacterial infection. Professor Laffey said: “This success is due to a large scale collaborative effort involving Queens University Belfast, Orbsen Therapeutics and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and CURAM at NUI Galway. It shows that we can rapidly adapt and offer a complex cell therapy intervention to patients in the time and resource pressured setting of a global pandemic. Clinical trials are the only way to rapidly and safely find therapies for this devastating condition.” -Ends-


News Archive

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

A Tribute to Mary McPartlan

Friday, 3 April 2020

Tá OÉ Gaillimh le Searmanas Bronnta Fhíorúil a Reáchtáil do Bhreis agus 300 Céimí

Friday, 3 April 2020

NUI Galway to Hold Virtual Conferring Ceremony for Over 300 Graduates

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway and Director of the NUI Galway Center for Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics, and Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, have been named as two of five new Research Leaders by the Health Research Board. Each Research Leader has developed strong partnerships with different parts of the health sector to conduct research programmes that will deliver evidence to directly inform changes in health policy and practice. Professor Donohoe is aiming to provide psychosocial supports for young people with severe mental health challenges, while Dr Vellinga will provide actionable research to reduce infections and the use of antibiotics. Professor Donohoe’s award is in the area of youth mental health, in collaboration with the National Early Intervention for Psychosis Service. The overarching aim of this research program is to build capacity for evaluating and implementing psychological treatments in young people with mental health difficulties. 75% of all mental health difficulties first occur between 15-25 years of age, but despite this young people have the poorest access to treatment and supports. The more severe of these disorders, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are ranked by the World Health Organisation as a top five cause of years lived with disability. Commenting on the award, Professor Donohoe said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to lead a collaboration with key figures in the Health Service Executive providing early psychosis services, and international experts in youth mental health research. This award recognises the critical need for research-informed services focused on youth mental health, informing implementation of best practice and new discoveries in routine care.” Dr Vellinga was named as HRB Research Leader for her Collaboration to reduce Antibiotic use and Resistance and identify opportunities for improvement and Awareness (CARA) project. In Europe, about 33,000 people die each year as a direct consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  Dr Vellinga said: “Superbugs cause resistant infections which are difficult to treat and pose a serious threat to human health. This programme will combine, link and analyse data from multiple already existing databases about infection, antibiotic prescribing antibiotic resistance and other healthcare- information. The CARA data-infrastructure will be set up with dashboards for other researchers, clinicians, and healthcare workers to visualise relevant and linked data. Using data visualisation, we will be able to identify opportunities to reduce infections and antibiotic use and improve health care.” Dr Vellinga and her team will be working closely with Professor Mathieu d’Aquin from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the NUI Galway, as well as the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre, Irish College of General Practitioners, DCU, and Imperial College London. Dr Darrin Morrissey, CEO of the Health Research Board: “It is essential that we support health research leaders who can deliver solid evidence to improve decision making, practice and policy in relation topical health issues such as health service reform, mental health and antimicrobial resistance.” The research programs will support a team of researchers over five years, including PhD students, research assistants, and postdoctoral researchers, and provide dedicated academic and clinical time. The total value of each award is €1.5M. -Ends-

Friday, 27 March 2020

New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action.  While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others.  We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city.  The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry.  The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy.   A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system Largest meta-analysis looking at brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia An international collaborative study led by researchers from the NUI Galway provides findings on the neural basis of intelligence, otherwise known as general cognitive ability (IQ). This new research uses an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to provide an insight into how small variations in this wiring system is associated with differences in IQ in both the general population and how disorders such as schizophrenia manifest. Over 40 scientists from around the world were involved in analysing brain MRI scans and measures of cognitive function of 1,717 participants, with both healthy functions and patients with schizophrenia. This resulted in a new method to harmonise data collection and analysis as part of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis project (ENIGMA), Schizophrenia Working Group.  The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, was led by Dr Laurena Holleran, Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience and Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics. Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Laurena Holleran, stated that: "To date, this is the largest meta-analysis study of brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia. Understanding the neural basis of cognitive function is essential so that effective therapies that address difficulties associated with disorders like schizophrenia, which aren’t targeted by current treatments. This is important because cognitive deficits associated with the disorder strongly predict social and functional outcomes, such as employment or social relationships.   “Previous literature suggested that general intelligence relies on specific grey matter areas of the brain, including temporal, parietal and frontal regions. However, the results from this study indicate that efficient connection pathways across the entire brain provide a neural network that supports general cognitive function.” According to the study’s senior author Professor Gary Donohoe: “These results advance our knowledge in a number of ways. Firstly, we have demonstrated that the relationship between brain structure and intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system. Secondly, it’s not just one part of this wiring system that is important for intelligence, but rather the wiring system as a whole. And finally, the relationship between intelligence and the brain’s wiring system is basically the same in patients with schizophrenia and healthy people, in that the lack of pattern explains their cognitive abilities. This suggests that cognitive function in patients is the same as the general population, at least as far as white matter is concerned.” Research at NUI Galway’s Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics focuses on providing a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between genetic, brain structure and environmental risk factors associated with psychiatric disorders. By understanding the neural basis of cognitive deficits, researchers aim to establish whether and how these deficits can be ameliorated by therapeutic interventions, leading to better patient functional outcomes. -Ends-


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