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Open Access Pushing the limits for better fertility

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The Laboratory of Reproductive Bioengineering has been involved with many important studies in recent years, a number of which have challenged the boundaries of fertility research. One such study has developed a solution to effectively preserve the ovarian follicle, a sack of immature eggs or oocytes in the ovaries. 'This research included establishing protocols for isolating cultures of oogonial stem cells and evaluated their work within non-human primate models to develop a source of next generation female germ cells, cells that eventually become eggs,' outlines Kim. 'Oogonial stem cells, discovered only about ten years ago, are oocytes generated in peri-menopausal women. However, they are not fully matured and do not have the essential hormone receptors needed for conception.' Their research is having numerous positive outcomes. In developing and patenting their protocol for isolating oogonial stem cells, the team could pave the way for replacing the use of human oocytes in research, which are difficult to procure, with the use of these stem cells. 'We are also establishing a solution optimal for preserving the cells, leading to standardisation and commercialisation of their work on the medical market and thus enriching treatments for infertility,' says Ku. Another project they are involved in is the development of ovary and endometrium anti-ageing and cell regeneration techniques to improve fertility (Ku is a certified physician by North American Menopause Society and by American Board of Anti-Ageing Medicine). By identifying ageing mechanisms in the ovaries and endometrium, the team was able to use bio-transporter research, involving moving molecules through membranes, to enhance cell regeneration. This work is expected to be utilised in the pharmaceutical field. A third important research study conducted by the team derived cardiomyocytes, muscle cells present in the heart, from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to generate cells for therapeutic purposes. 'We also developed efficient cryopreservation techniques to adequately conserve these cells,' explains Kim. 'This work will prove an important asset in pharmaceutical screenings to come.' Their past projects in the area of reproductive medicine and fertility are numerous, and the previous examples are only a small sample of their countless efforts.
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Keywords: BIO-TRANSPORTER RESEARCH; DEVELOPMENT OF OVARY AND ENDOMETRIUM ANTI-AGEING AND CELL REGENERATION TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE FERTILITY; FERTILITY RESEARCH; NEXT GENERATION FEMALE GERM CELLS; OOCYTES GENERATED IN PERI-MENOPAUSAL WOMEN; PRESERVE THE OVARIAN FOLLICLE; PROTOCOLS FOR ISOLATING CULTURES OF OOGONIAL STEM CELLS; REPLACING THE USE OF HUMAN OOCYTES; REPRODUCTIVE BIOENGINEERING; TREATMENTS FOR INFERTILITY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea 2: Korea University Medical Center, South Korea

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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