- IVI has obtained, via the Prometeo program offered by the Generalitat Valenciana, a grant for the exclusive use of consolidated research groups of excellence
- This program will allow IVI to embark on a project entitled ‘Regenerative factors and bioengineering in Reproductive Medicine. Its application as a future therapeutic tool for the recovery of ovarian function and repair of the endometrium’
- The Valencian Community Ministry of Education, Research, Culture and Sports grant is the responsibility of both Prof. Antonio Pellicer, co-president of IVI and principal investigator of the project, as well as thirteen other researchers within the team
VALENCIA, OCTOBER 2018
Prometeo stands for scientific excellence, although it’s a relatively ‘new’ program in the Valencian Community, it’s one of the most important programs in terms of aiding research. Prometeo finances consolidated research groups with a proven track record. IVI, headed up by its co-president and principal investigator, Prof. Pellicer, has once again managed to enter this program to develop a research project over the next four years (IVI has previously participated in the Prometeo program on several occasions).
In addition to Prof. Pellicer, thirteen IVI researchers will be involved in this project called ‘Regenerative factors and bioengineering in Reproductive Medicine. Its application as a future therapeutic tool for the recovery of ovarian function and repair of the endometrium ‘, which comes with a budget of approximately € 335,000 over the next few years. Of those thirteen team members, the Foundation’s Doctors; Irene Cervelló and Sonia Herraiz, will head up the field work.
In this project, IVI will join two main lines of research, which include the entire female reproductive system, with the proposed use of new technologies. The objective, according to Prof. Pellicer, is “to accommodate the recovery of both ovarian function and any other endometrial lesion that produces infertility, with new technologies such as stem cells, bioengineering, and regenerative factors.”
The two lines of research (endometrium and recovery of ovarian function) will work in parallel, in the quest to find solutions to everything that affects the female reproductive system. Dr Cervelló commenting on the program said: “We want to identify the cells that regenerate the endometrium. In addition, if there is damage or disease at the endometrial level we want to be able to cure it, through platelet-rich plasma, something that we have been developing for a long time through bioengineering”.
For her part, Dr Sonia Herraiz says that “our aim is to recover ovarian function in those patients who have lost this function either though aging or for example, through damage with chemotherapy. We started by studying the stem cells and their behaviour in the ovarian environment, now we are evaluating other options such as the use of plasmas derived from these cells, constantly looking to rejuvenate the ovary. In a perfect scenario, the concept is to avoid the loss of the female ovarian reserve, but for that, there is still a long way to go “.
Stem cells, bioengineering and regenerative factors
At the endometrial level, it is a question of curing any damage or disease, starting from the use of platelet-rich plasma, injected into the endometrium, the analysis of stem cell samples and the use of bioengineering, creating three-dimensional or in vitro endometrial models.
Via new techniques, such as bioengineering, it is intended to obtain a gel (by lyophilization) derived from extracellular matrix of the endometrium with therapeutic and regenerative application. Something that has already developed in myocardium (heart), with positive results, and that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
At the ovarian level, the first step was to study the infusion of stem cells in the ovary; now we are looking for other alternatives, including investigating what factors secrete stem cells so that neighboring cells respond or regenerate. The umbilical cord plasma or some enriched plasmas may also be able to achieve rejuvenation.
And the ultimate goal is ovarian preservation, which is currently carried out, among others, via the extraction and vitrification of oocytes. Every woman is born with an established ovarian reserve; the concept is, starting from certain molecules, to ensure that the ovarian reserve does not shrink after each ovulation. This means that to keep the reserve intact we have to ensure that the follicles are not activated periodically.