|TITLE:||JOINING FORCES IN CORNEAL REGENERATION RESEARCH|
COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology
Domain: Biomedicine and Molecular Biosciences
N. of Action: BM1302
November 2013 – November 2017 (4 Years)
|FBOV ROLE:||Substitute Member for ITALY|
SUMMARY: Corneal blindness is a worldwide problem which can often be treated by transplantation of donor human tissue, or by implantation of artificial, non-biological corneas. However, there is a great lack of donors worldwide and current implants are either expensive or do not integrate well. The solution may be found in the development of biodegradable artificial corneas, consisting of bio-matrices seeded with host limbal stem cells. However, current emerging research is in its early stages and fragmented among research institutes throughout Europe.
This COST Action combines scientific, clinical and industrial knowledge in the field of corneal regeneration. This will link researchers in the fields of biomaterial research, stem cell manipulation, tissue engineering, ophthalmology and immunology. This planned collaboration will, not only result in a unique European knowledge base to boost the development of biodegradable artificial corneas from basic research to clinical application, but will also provide the foundation to foster the development of a new generation of cornea specialists that are interested in regenerative medicine, especially in ophthalmology. In regard of the aging population of Europe, such a focus is of great importance to help our increasing population of elderly individuals with corneal disease.
COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level.
OBJECTIVES/SCOPE : The main objective of the Action is to create a European network of cornea and regenerative medicine specialists in order to foster and to coordinate European research on cornea and ocular surface diseases, reconstruction and regeneration from basic research to medical application.
For successful scientific progress and ultimately, the development of bio medical applications in the field of bio cornea, academia, clinical settings and industry will work together on the following 5 scientific objectives:
1. To exchange current knowledge and gain new knowledge, coordinated at European level, on novel biomaterials for the development of suitable biocompatible scaffolds that can be used for corneal regeneration and ocular surface reconstruction.
2. To investigate corneal tissue engineering to achieve corneal regeneration and ocular surface reconstruction in situ with a suitable biocompatible scaffold.
3. To study corneal cell-cell and cell-scaffold mechanistic and immunological interactions involved in corneal regeneration and ocular surface reconstruction using novel biomaterials.
4. To combine optimized modelling systems to evaluate the knowledge obtained from basic research of cornea regeneration and ocular surface reconstruction in vivo.
5. To validate biomaterial-based corneal regeneration and ocular surface reconstruction with pre-clinical and clinical approaches.
SCIENTIFIC WORK PLAN: The Work Plan is organized in 5 open Working Groups focusing on the scientific activities which relate to the objectives:
WG 1 – Scaffold development
WG 2 – Tissue engineering
WG 3 – Corneal cell biology
WG 4 – Modelling
WG 5 – (Pre-) clinical studies on corneal regeneration
The Working Groups will coordinate current and new research activities which are (nationally) funded by the Participants. In order to be able to reach the aims of this Action research disciplines needs to be combined within and through the Working Groups. For each WG specific objectives and a Work Plan are defined. The Work Plan is divided in several research tasks which will (partly) be divided between the research groups participating in this Action.