Welcome to VO-CRO

Welcome to the new VO-CRO website. Dr. John S. Penn established VO-CRO with the efforts of helping organizations worldwide advance drugs for blinding eye conditions. Our new website was built in partnership with the Horton Group. The primary purpose of the new site build is to communicate effectively the scope of work we conduct at VO-CRO. In addition to providing information about pharmaceutical drugs, we help students gain experience in ophthalmic research. The updates have made it possible for us to share how our research methods can benefit patients worldwide who are suffering from blinding eye diseases. 

What We Do at VO-CRO 

At VO-CRO, we rely on translational research to advance the practice of ophthalmology. Certain blinding eye diseases are without effective treatments or cures. Translational research helps monitor the different behavior of diseases to improve health outcomes. Our pre-clinical testing provides an assessment of drug safety and efficacy. Success relies on our partnerships from the community to obtain the data for complex medical questions about ocular disorders. 

VO-CRO Approach 

We use a comprehensive array of experimental models to advance pre-clinical drug development against blinding eye diseases. What sets us apart is our affiliation with an academic medical center. Very few CRO’s benefit from this attribute. Our partnership with Vanderbilt gives us access to world-class facilities and infrastructural advantages to deliver quality and consistent data. Each product comes with comprehensive deliverables, expert biostatistical analysis, detailed study designs, and more. In addition to testing, our senior staff members are available for consulting. Some areas include: 

  • Assessment of the current ocular drug development landscape
  • Experimental design
  • IND portfolio development
  • Toxicity determination strategies
  • Current innovative standards for ocular drug development

Our Models 

Our unique position and alignment with an academic medical center allows us to focus our efforts to the advancement of ocular disease models. 

In Vitro 

With in vitro studies, we can isolate and culture cells from mouse, rat, and human tissue. We can recover high-quality data that can help move drug development forward. The use of primary human cells is essential at VO-CRO. We use a variety of ocular cells to identify eye disease onset, progression, and regression. Cell types include:

  • Choroidal Endothelial Cells
  • Retinal Microvascular Endothelial Cells
  • Pericytes
  • Müller Glia
  • Retinal Pigmented Epithelium
  • Astrocytes
  • Microglia
  • Neurons

You can visit our in vitro page to learn more about the different cell types and readouts. We offer readouts with information on molecular profiling and cell behaviors. 

Ex Vivo 

Retina and choroid tissues are isolated from different animal species in our ex vivo model. Ex vivo studies help us perform drug screening experiments in a controlled and physiologically relevant environment. The goal is to better understand the integrative nature of cell behaviors. It’s excellent for assays studying tissue properties and behaviors. Our ex vivo page further explains the different tissues and ex vivo readouts. 

  • Retina

Retinal explants can be maintained ex vivo under controlled conditions. These explants can then be tested under disease-relevant conditions and transcriptome, proteome, secretome, etc. can be assayed.

  • Choroid

The choroid can be dissected from other ocular tissues and maintained under culture conditions. Assays, like those described above for retina, can be employed.

In Vivo 

We rely on the support of a team of employees from Vanderbilt University’s Division of Animal Care (DAC) to help us during our in vivo research. DAC provides us with veterinary care and husbandry services for over twenty species of vertebrate animals. Different in vivo models include: 

  • Oxygen-Induced Retinopathy
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Laser-Induced Choroidal Neovascularization
  • Retinal Degeneration
  • Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury
  • Retinal Vein Occlusion

The species for each study is selected based on prior knowledge, and in close consultation with the client. At VO-CRO, we have extensive experience in preclinical animal models of ocular disease.

In Vivo Imaging 

Adding in vivo imaging to your study provides a way to effectively measure the desired effects of experimental compounds. At VO-CRO, our expertise includes fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and other clinically relevant imaging methods.  If you’re unaware of what imaging option is appropriate, our team members can assist you with the decision. 

In Vivo Toxicity and Pharmacokinetics

We can perform in vivo toxicity, and pharmacokinetics (PK) studies in-house. These can be conducted alongside or prior to efficacy trials of experimental compounds. The results of these studies help identify the best method of administration, dosing, and other parameters for pharmaceutical drugs. 

Contact VO-CRO 

We’ve assisted clients from prestigious academic institutions to Fortune 500 companies across the country and around the world with the pre-clinical data needed to bring medicines to market. Contact us today to learn more about our models and services.