Research projects at CReATe

Andrology

Evaluation of genetic causes of male infertility and of paternal contribution to fertilization and embryo development

  • study of oocyte-activation factors in sperm and their role in male infertility;
  • study of chromosome physiology in sperm (including spatial localization and packaging, DNA damage/fragmentation, telomere length, and aneuploidy) and its role in male infertility

Team Lead: Sergey Moskovtsev

Clinical Research

This area of research focuses on each step of the fertility process and factors that affect the success of your treatment. Using information from patient charts, we analyze large data to determine the effectiveness of a drug, of timing between treatments, the effect of specific surgeries on IVF success, and the effect of patient lifestyles on fertility success.

Currently, our largest clinical project revolves around the effect of different types of adipose/fat in the body and fertility success. There are two types of fat in the human body; the layer underneath the skin (subcutaneous) and the layer surrounding the organs (visceral). Recent studies have found that each layer has a different effect on the body’s hormonal levels and its effect on the healthiness of the ovaries. We are investigating the effect of these fat levels on male and female fertility outcomes. This is done using non-invasive methods (ultrasound) to quantify the amount of fat.

Team Lead: Kevin Quach

Embryology

Investigation of factors regulating human oocyte and embryo quality in assisted reproduction techniques (ART)

  • Study of maternal and paternal contributions to early stages of embryo development;
  • Study of mechanisms of oocyte maturation and activation;
  • development of non-invasive assays to increase and assess embryo quality to increase implantation success;
  • advancements in human oocytes and embryos cryopreservation.

Team Lead: Stewart Russell and Hanna Balakier

Uterine Implantation

Team Lead: Stewart Russell

Ovarian Biology

Investigation of molecular mechanisms regulating normal ovarian biology and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) to identify novel biomarkers for clinical use proteomic evaluation of follicular fluid and serum biomarkers in PCOS; identification of genes regulating follicular cells and their role in PCOS.

Team Lead: Shlomit Kenigsberg

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a disease of pregnancy that is associated with maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Despite extensive research, the underlying cause(s) of preeclampsia have yet to be determined. Furthermore, patients are not diagnosed with preeclampsia until the time of delivery. Our research is primarily focused on discovering markers in the blood or placenta that may be indicative of whether a woman will go on to develop preeclampsia. Further understanding and discovery of markers that are associated with preeclampsia may aid in predicting pregnancy outcome, and subsequently in the treatment of preeclampsia before onset of the disease.

Team Lead: Kevin Quach

Stem Cell Biology

CReATe’s stem cell research team has been characterizing the properties of specialized cells isolated from the perivascular region of umbilical cord tissue (want to find image). We are also evaluating their potential use for a variety of regenerative medicine applications including heart disease, brain injuries and fertility preservation/restoration in collaborative pre-clinical studies. An emerging focus for this team is the characterization and ex-vivo expansion of spermatogonial stem cells, the cells that give rise to spermatozoa after puberty. The goals of this project are to gain a better understanding of the causes of defective sperm production in a specific group of male infertility patients, and to develop an innovative fertility preservation strategy for pre-pubertal boys needing to undergo gonado-toxic cancer treatments.

Team Lead: Andreé Gauthier-Fisher

Vitrification

Conventional freezing (standard vapor freezing) is a widely practiced procedure for cryopreservation patient’s and donor’s sperm prior to intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. Vitrification is the technique that in contrast to slow freezing allows to avoid the crystallization, which causes the cells membrane damages. Both slow vapor freezing and classical vitrification use a permeable cryoprotectants, which are potentialy toxic. Vitrification has been successfully applied for matured human oocytes and preimplantation stage embryos, but this technique has not been used for cryopreservation of human spermatozoa. Recently, we showed that human spermatozoa can be successfully vitrified without the use of potentially toxic permeable cryoprotectants. Our results obtained with the same ejaculates demonstrated that after vitrification the motility rates of warmed spermatozoa are significantly higher compare to slow frozen and thawed spermatozoa with no difference in DNA damage. Vitrified without permeable cryoprotectants human spermatozoa can be used in ART for the patients with oligo- and/or asthenozoospermia by direct transfer of the warmed spermatozoa into ICSI-dishes and for artificial insemination without previous wash.

Team Lead: Valeriy Kuznyetsov

Pre-Implantation Genetics

Team Lead: Svetlana