Infertility and improving IVF outcomes

Infertility and improving IVF outcomes is a Research Project for the Embryo Implantation Research Group, under the Centre for Reproductive Health.

Project Leader

ivfSpecific projects:

  • Secreted microRNA and IVF success: developing biomarkers and therapeutic strategies to treat infertility.
  • Non-invasive testing of human embryos to predict implantation and pregnancy outcome
  • Epigenetic regulation of endometrial receptivity

The failure of a human embryo to implant in an adequately prepared maternal endometrium (receptive endometrium) results in infertility and limits the success of assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF. Currently, there is no way of diagnosing endometrial infertility. We have identified critical factors that prepare the endometrium for implantation and are now investigating precisely how these proteins regulate embryo-endometrial dialogue that is critical for implantation success.

Implantation failure results in infertility, a condition affecting 10 per cent of couples worldwide.

For 25 per cent of these couples, the cause of infertility remains ‘unexplained’. Many will turn to assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF in an attempt to conceive, however, around 75 per cent of the embryos transferred during IVF fail to implant and develop.

With no reliable endometrial receptivity biomarkers, there is no practical means of determining when the endometrium is optimally prepared or receptive for implantation. Identifying such biomarkers is essential. While numerous genes have been associated with receptivity their importance in human implantation remains to be determined.

We are investigating the role of the embryo on implantation and IVF success.  We believe the embryo secretes these factors during the 24 hours prior to implantation to influence the endometrium to implant successfully. During IVF we have found that these secreted factors are missing, potentially impacting on endometrial receptivity and reducing the chances of a successful pregnancy. We have demonstrated that some of the factors we have identified are abnormally altered in women with infertility.

Our group is also continuing to investigate how these factors regulate receptivity and their links to infertility and the low success rates of IVF.

This project will utilise our state-of-the-art proteomics facility and a range of relevant in vitro models and in vivo models where appropriate, and will also determine whether the identified factors are abnormal in women with infertility.

Collaborators:

Monash IVF
Dr Tiki Osianlis
Associate Professor Luk Rombauts