Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Research on Promising Stem Cell Therapy using Biomaterials for Wound Healing Published

Investigators at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have demonstrated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) delivery using a three-dimensional microgel platform, to assist with tissue repair in patients suffering from critical limb ischemia and other peripheral arterial diseases. Peripheral arterial disease is a chronic vascular disease characterised by impaired circulation to the lower extremities. Its most severe stage, known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), puts patients at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, infected and non-healing wounds, amputation, and death.   CLI affects millions of patients globally. Advancing age combined with other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking suggests that the condition will only increase in the near future. CÚRAM’s research in innovative ‘smart’ medical devices and implants aims to benefit patients with chronic soft tissue ailments such as CLI, as well as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, renal and respiratory diseases. This study, ‘Temporal Changes Guided by Mesenchymal Stem Cells on a 3D Microgel Platform Enhances Angiogenesis In Vivo at a Low-Cell Dose’ published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the most influential journals on scientific progress, illustrates how a low dose of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) embedded in a three-dimensional microgel cell delivery platform, can induce rapid blood vessel regeneration and tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in the bone marrow that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues. Therapeutic factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote the regeneration of blood vessels. Still, delivery of these stem cells to the patient in isolation and outside of their normal environmental conditions offers only a limited benefit to patients, with issues such as poor graft survival. The delivery of stem cells on an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based platform; however, changes cell behaviour and enhances the potential for tissue repair, reduces inflammation and further tissue damage. “Our fundamental research adds to current knowledge about cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the importance of preconditioning or priming the capacity of biomaterials through cell-material interactions. Obtaining therapeutic efficacy at a low-cell dose in the microgel platform is a promising clinical route that would aid faster tissue repair in patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases such as Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)” said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and lead author on the paper. Further basic investigation of the biochemical nature of the 3-D delivery platform and its influence on the over or under expression of cellular receptors will be the focus of a future study. From a cell therapy point-of-view, the 3-D model platform developed during this research offers a significant benefit over other cell delivery platforms with the use of a twenty-fold lower cell dose than that of the gold-standard used in pre-clinical ischemia studies. This illustrates the importance of preconditioning the MSCs on a 3-D microgel platform that allows the use of a low-cell dose as a localised therapy to reverse ischemia. According to Professor Pandit: “These findings will be increasingly significant, as future studies will investigate ECM-based three-dimensional niches using our platform technology for engineering constructs that will allow replication of native cellular microenvironments for enhancing the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Besides, we are very keen on transferring this technology to the clinic with our clinical collaborators.” The multi-disciplinary research team led by Professor Pandit involved Professor Tim O’Brien, Co-PI at CÚRAM and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, CÚRAM researchers Dr Dilip Thomas, Dr Grazia Marsico, Dr Gianluca Fontana and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa, Dr Arun Thirumaran and Dr Xizhe Chen, Dr Bart Lukasz and Dr Brian Rodriguez from the Conway Institute, University College Dublin and Professor Martina Marchetti-Deschmann from the Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien of the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and co-funded by the ERDF as well as through EMBO short-term fellowships with use of core-facilities and technical assistance at NUI Galway. The full paper can be accessed at www.pnas.org. For further information, please contact Claire O’Riordan at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie -Ends-


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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Tá OÉ Gaillimh ar na naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha i gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT Roghnaíodh an cuibhreannas ENLIGHT ina bhfuil naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha, lena n-áirítear OÉ Gaillimh, sa chreat den dara gairm ar “Ollscoileanna Eorpacha”, clár píolótach an Choimisiúin Eorpaigh do líonraí iltaobhacha. Gheobhaidh ENLIGHT, an Líonra Ollscoileanna Eorpacha chun caighdeán cóir beatha, inbhuanaitheacht agus rannpháirtíocht Dhomhanda a chur chun cinn trí Chlaochlú Ardoideachais, maoiniú tosaigh ar luach €5 milliún. Tugann ENLIGHT naoi n-ollscoil le chéile mar atá ollscoileanna i nGaillimh, Éire; Tír na mBascach sa Spáinn; Bordeaux sa Fhrainc; an Bhratasláiv sa tSlóvaic; Göttingen sa Ghearmáin; Groningen san Ísiltír; Tartu san Eastóin; Uppsala sa tSualainn; agus Ghent sa Bheilg. Cuireann naoi n-ollscoil ENLIGHT comhchuspóir rompu an t-ardoideachas a chlaochlú ó bhonn agus an t-eolas agus na scileanna cuí a sholáthar do mhic léinn reatha agus ionchasacha d’fhonn go mbeidh siad ina ngairmithe tiomanta agus go ngabhfaidh siad i ngleic le príomhdhúshláin chasta na sochaí san aonú céad is fiche. Cuimsíonn an líonra ENLIGHT éagsúlacht thíreolaíoch, chultúrtha agus teangacha na hEorpa, agus cuireann sé roimhe gaisneas iomlán a bhaint as an saibhreas agus as an éagsúlacht seo le deiseanna staidéir ilchineálacha idirnáisiúnta, atá curtha i bhfeiliúint do riachtanais an duine aonair, a thairiscint. Ag labhairt dó faoin ábhar inniu, dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tá lúcháir orainn in OÉ Gaillimh ár gcuid oibre leis an gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT a chur chun cinn a thuilleadh. Tá lán na naoi n-ollscoil lonnaithe lasmuigh de phríomhchathracha agus tá dearcadh faoi leith ar an saol acu dá bhrí sin. Le chéile, cuirimid borradh faoi fhorbairt ar bhonn réigiúnach, oibrímid go dlúth lenár gcuid cathrach le dul i ngleic le dúshláin shochaíocha agus breathnaímid ar uaillmhian idirnáisiúnta mar bhealach leis an tionchar réigiúnach is mó a bheith againn. In OÉ Gaillimh, is trína bheith oscailte do na caighdeáin bharr feabhais agus chomhoibrithe is airde a dhéanaimid an freastal is fearr – agus a léirímid an meas is fearr – ar ár réigiún. Bainfimid tairbhe as an maoiniú seo mar go bhfoghlaimeoidh an cuibhreannas le chéile maidir le dul i ngleic leis na dúshláin chéanna atá ag teacht lenár luachanna mar phobal ollscoile.” Cuireann ollscoileanna ENLIGHT rompu formáidí foghlama nua a chruthú ina ndíríonn mic léinn ar fhíor-riachtanais na sochaí in éindí le taighdeoirí, saoránaigh agus cuideachtaí. Ina cheann sin, ní hamháin go dtabharfar an deis do mhic léinn cur lena gcuid eolais le hardtaighde, ach spreagfar iad le breathnú thar chríocha a ndisciplín féin, le smaoineamh go nuálach, le hoibriú as lámha a chéile, le dul i ngleic le héagsúlacht agus lena gcuid dearcthaí a leathnú laistigh agus lasmuigh den Eoraip. Dúirt an Leas-Uachtarán Idirnáisiúnta in OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Becky Whay: “Léirigh an phaindéim reatha an gá le comhoibriú idirnáisiúnta chun dul i ngleic le fadhbanna domhanda, agus i dteannta lenár gcomhpháirtithe ENLIGHT, táimid tiomanta do dhul i ngleic le constaicí oideachais a d’fhéadfadh a theacht chun cinn. Agus an maoiniú seo faighte againn ag an am seo go háirithe, tá súil againn go mbeidh sé ina chor cinniúnach dúinn dul i dtreo idirnáisiúnaithe níos cuimsithí trí chomhoibriú ar líne chun dul i ngleic na ndúshlán céanna. As seo go ceann trí bliana, triailfidh ENLIGHT formáidí foghlama nua ar bhonn píolótach i gcúig phríomhthéama mar atá: Athrú Aeráide, Sláinte agus Folláine, Neamhionannais, Réabhlóid Dhigiteach, Fuinneamh agus Ciorclaíocht. Ar bhonn fadtréimhseach is mian le ENLIGHT spás oscailte idir na naoi n-ollscoil a chruthú ionas nach mbeidh aon bhac ar an bhfoghlaim, ar an teagasc, ná ar an oibriú le chéile ann. Cuireadh an tionscadal ENLIGHT i gcrích i ndlúth-chomhpháirtíocht le hionadaithe mac léinn de chuid gach ollscoil ENLIGHT, agus tá ról lárnach ag an líonra mac léinn i gcónaí maidir le haghaidh a thabhairt ar riachtanais na glúine reatha mac léinn agus na glúine a leanfaidh ina diaidh amach anseo. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoi ENLIGHT ar fáil ag https://enlight-eu.org. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The ENLIGHT consortium of nine European universities, including NUI Galway, has been selected in the framework of the second call for "European Universities", the European Commission's pilot program for new multilateral networks. ENLIGHT, the European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation and will receive start-up funding of €5 million. ENLIGHT unites nine universities of Galway, Ireland; the Basque Country, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; Göttingen, Germany; Groningen, The Netherlands; Tartu, Estonia; Uppsala, Sweden; and Ghent, Belgium. The nine ENLIGHT universities have set a common goal to fundamentally transform higher education and to empower existing and prospective students with the right knowledge and skills to become engaged professionals and respond to the major, complex societal challenges of the 21st century. The ENLIGHT network embodies the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe, and aims to make full use of this wealth and diversity to offer new, flexible international study opportunities tailored to individual’s needs. Speaking today, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is delighted to further its work with the ENLIGHT consortium.  All nine universities are based outside of capital cities and therefore have a particular perspective on the world. Together, we are regional drivers of development, working closely with our cities to tackle societal challenges and see international ambition as a means of maximising regional impact.  At NUI Galway, we serve our region best – and respect it – by being open to highest standards of excellence and co-operation.  We will benefit from this funding as the consortium will learn collectively to address shared challenges consistent with our values as a university community.” The ENLIGHT universities aim to create new learning formats in which students focus on real social needs together with researchers, citizens and companies. In addition, students will not only given the opportunity to sharpen their knowledge with advanced research, but will also be stimulated to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline, to think innovatively, work together, deal with diversity and to broaden their horizons within and outside Europe. Vice President International at NUI Galway, Professor Becky Whay commented: “The current pandemic has highlighted the need for international co-operation to tackle global problems, and with our ENLIGHT partners, we are committed to tackling barriers to education that may emerge.  We hope that receiving this funding at this time will prove a watershed moment for us to work towards more inclusive internationalisation through online co-operation to tackle shared challenges.”  Over the next three years, ENLIGHT will pilot new learning formats across five focus themes: Climate Change, Health and Well-Being, Inequalities, Digital revolution, Energy and Circularity. In the long term ENLIGHT wants to create an open space between the nine universities without barriers for learning, teaching and working together. The ENLIGHT project was realised in close co-operation with the student representatives of all ENLIGHT universities, with the student network continuing to play a central role in addressing the needs of current and future student generations. More information on ENLIGHT is available at https://enlight-eu.org. -Ends-

Monday, 20 July 2020

Friday 17 July: Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, has been appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The position will focus on the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons, and Professor Mullally was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, following an open competitive selection process. As Special Rapporteur Professor Mullally will be responsible for taking action on human rights violations committed against trafficked persons and on situations in which there has been a failure to protect their human rights and to take effective preventive action. She will undertake country visits in order to study the situation in situ and formulate recommendations to prevent and/or combat trafficking, and protect the human rights of victims of trafficking in specific countries and/or regions, and will also submit annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.  She will also present to the UN Security Council on the links between human trafficking and armed conflict. Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights, and are a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery. Professor Mullally said: "Human Trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, often targeting people living in poverty, victims of discrimination, and people fleeing situations of armed conflict or persecution. COVID-19 has limited access to critical support services for victims of trafficking, and deflected resources away from preventive action. Closures of borders and limited access to safe, regular migration, combined with increases in unemployment and poverty, all increase risks of sexual, labour and other forms of exploitation. Children who are increasingly in online environments and not attending school regularly, are particularly at risk of trafficking. "It is critical now that effective protection measures are taken to vindicate the human rights of victims of trafficking, and that Governments and the international community take seriously their obligations to prevent human trafficking." Professor Mullally was previously a member and President of the Council of Europe monitoring body, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Persons. She is a member of the National Group of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. In 2009-19, she was a Fulbright Scholar and Senior fellow in residence at the Gender and Sexuality Law Center at Columbia University. She has also held visiting positions at Harvard Human Rights Program, Cornell Law School, National Law School of India University and University of Peshawar. She served as a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission from 2014-19 and Chairperson of the Irish Refugee Council 2006-8. She has undertaken human rights advisory roles in many parts of the world, in conflict and post-conflict settings, working with UN bodies and civil society organisations. She has published widely in the fields of gender and human rights, migration and refugee protection.


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