Improving fertility treatment in collaboration with industry

Publication date 15.01.2014

Inge Van Vaerenbergh and Tom Adriaenssens are members of the Follicle Biology Laboratory (FOBI) of the Reproduction and Genetics Research Cluster on the VUB Medical Campus. FOBI, directed by Johan Smitz, MD, PhD, is a basic and translational medical research unit focusing on ovaries and oocytes. FOBI plays a central role in fertility preservation in female cancer patients who risk losing their reproductive potential. Ovarian tissue and oocytes are now banked for cancer patients and will be replaced once the patients are cured ( FOBI also develops in-vitro maturation of oocytes (IVM), a more patient-friendly and cost-effective approach than current IVF treatment.

FOBI has developed a non-invasive cumulus cell test (CC-Test) to increase the efficiency of the single embryo transfer strategy in ART. Quantification of a set of quality genes in cumulus cells, which surround the oocyte, is predictive of its pregnancy potential. This test is the subject of a pending patent application. Applying the CC-Test in the human IVF lab requires the optimization of technology and prospective clinical validation. Biocartis NV, a Flemish biotech SME, has been engaged to implement the CC-Test on a fully automated analyzer. This bilateral collaboration with industry received IWT support by providing a post-doctoral innovation mandate (2013 – 2015) to Inge Van Vaerenbergh. Together with FOBI researcher Tom Adriaenssens, the CC-Test will be transformed from a research to a clinical assay on one of the Biocartis platforms.