Novel techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of human Infertility
Teresa Almeida Santos, Ana Paula Sousa, Alexandra Amaral, Renata Tavares, Marta Baptista, Raquel Brito, J. F. Velez de la Calle, Helena Figueiredo, Vasco Almeida, João Ramalho-Santos (Clinique Pasteur, Brest, France, Gaia Hospital, University of Oporto, FMUC, CHUC, FCTUC, CNC)
Infertility is a growing problem, affection about 15% of couples worldwide. A partnership has been established between CNC and the Assisted Reproduction Laboratory of the University Hospitals of Coimbra (HUC) to develop novel assays to monitor human sperm and oocyte quality with the ultimate goal of improving Assisted Reproduction.

For sperm analysis the focus has been on complementing traditional analysis by including new parameters with a higher predictive value in terms of defining proper sperm function. These parameters include sperm viability, sperm mitochondrial activity, and sperm chromatin status, monitored using simple, easy and quick assays that can be implemented clinically with minimal effort. The collaboration has recently been extended to two other Portuguese labs (University of Oporto and Gaia Hospital) and one in France (Clinique Pasteur, Brest) for a multi-center evaluation and validation of procedures. Papers describing a novel methodology to assess sperm chromatin routinely, and how to correctly determine sperm mitochondrial function have been published (below).

In terms of oocyte evaluation novel non-invasive techniques are being pioneered to select the best oocytes (and, ultimately, the best embryos) to be used in Assisted Reproduction.

In addition, the collaboration also involves improving the cryo-banking and subsequent use of ovarian tissue for patients undergoing chemotherapy, as this type of treatment often leads to female infertility.
Publications
Amaral A, Ramalho-Santos J. Assessment of mitochondrial potential: Implications for a correct monitoring of human sperm function. Int. J. Andrology (in press)
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