Reproductive success of infertile couples through the evaluation of micro-organisms existing in the follicular fluid.
In women undergoing “assisted reproductive technology” treatment cycles, asymptomatic bacterial colonisation of the developing ovarian follicle (egg) is associated with decreased “in vitro fertilisation” (IVF) rates and lower embryo transfer success.
The researchers have collected 71 paired ovarian follicular fluid and vaginal secretions from women undergoing assisted reproduction technology, including fertile women with infertile partners, women with endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, or couples with a history of genital tract infection or idiopathic infertility. They found colonising micro-organisms in the follicular fluid of eggs in these women were associated with decreased fertilisation rates.
If the microorganisms are found to damage human eggs, then anti-bacterial treatments may prove effective in treating some infertile women. Also if certain cytokines are found to be markers for micro-organisms in the upper urogenital tract of women, they may provide a low cost screening method to detect the underlying problem of the infertile couple. The results of this study were published in the international medical/scientific journal “Human Reproduction” in 2011.
Preventing the spread of bone cancer in Osteosarcoma patients to improve treatment and prevent the cancer spreading.
Osteosarcoma is the second most common primary cancer of bone. The majority of patients afflicted by this disease are only in their teens and approximately 30% of these patients die. The primary cause of death is not the original tumour itself but spread of the cancer (metastasis), most commonly to the lung. Treatment has not changed significantly in the past 20 years, and patients who do not respond to the traditional drug therapy have no curative options open to them.
Our researchers performed a comprehensive genetic analysis of a number of patient tumours. They identified a gene that was expressed to different degrees in patients’ tumours when they were first diagnosed. The level of expression allowed the researchers to predict, with 93% accuracy, those patients whose primary cancer would subsequently spread. Significantly, their preliminary data also indicated that this gene is likely to be actively involved in regulating cancer spread. The researchers are currently determining whether the protein product of this gene is responsible for metastasis of this cancer.
This factor may represent a viable therapeutic target to treat osteosarcoma patients before cancer spreads to other parts of the body and lead to the first new treatment for osteosarcoma since the development of adjuvant chemotherapy.
Preventing inflammation during heart operations and reducing morbidity in cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.
During heart bypass surgery the patient’s circulation is supported by a heart lung machine and the patient’s blood is mixed with around 2 litres of perfusion fluid, usually Plasmalyte 148 which contains acetate. However, this procedure is frequently accompanied by inflammation and irregular heart beat.
Our researchers are testing a new heart perfusion fluid containing bicarbonate, which initial tests have shown maintains the acid levels in the blood better than the acetate-containing fluid and does not induce an inflammatory response. They are now examining whether perfusion with bicarbonate reduces morbidity in cardiopulmonary bypass surgery in a clinical trial compared with the acetate-based alternative.
If the bicarbonate-based perfusion fluid reduces inflammation during cardio-pulmonary bypass surgery it will change clinical practice.