The joy a couple experiences as they hold their child for the first time inspires the work we do every day. Only recently has infertility been recognized and classified as a real disease that needs dedicated research and funding to fight it and find a cure.

Dr. William SchoolcraftAs part of his legacy, Dr. William Schoolcraft, a world-renowned fertility specialist who has helped couples have children for decades, brought together leading researchers in the field of reproductive medicine to create a nonprofit, publicly-funded, highly motivated research team to fight this disease.

Today, NFFR is an acclaimed group who continues to make significant progress in reproductive medicine. And we are working hard to continue to fund the research that is helping couples around the world experience the joy of having a baby

NFFR Receives NIH Funding

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invests over $31.2 billion annually in medical research for the American people.  More then 80% of the NIH's funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 325,000 research institutions, universities, medical schools, and other research institutes in every state and around the world. NFFR can now include themselves among these prestigious groups! NFFR received approval for an NIH grant that will be put to work right away in our lab.  These funds will help further the NFFR mission to one day find a cure for infertility.

NFFR Receives Seven Abstracts at 2011 American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference

NFFR gave six presentations and displayed one poster at the annual ASRM conference in Orlando, FL.  At the conference, held in October, NFFR scientists presented research findings on our current studies. For the entire list of accepted NFFR abstracts. Download the PDF

Published Studies

Blastocysts from Patients with Polycystic Ovaries Exhibit Altered Transcriptome and Secretome

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The Role of Proteomics in Defining the Human Embryonic Secretome

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Aberration of Blastocyst MicroRNA Expression is Associated with Human Infertility

MicroRNAs are small molecules that are associated with regulating normal cellular function in mammalian cells. They have been shown to be vital during human development. This study describes for the first time that good quality embryos created from infertile patients possess abnormal microRNA profiles. These abnormal embryo microRNA profiles could represent an underlying mechanism that is contributing to the couple’s infertility. Download the PDF

Blastocyst Gene Expression Correlates with Implantation Potential

Various studies have shown that it’s difficult to predict embryo quality based on appearance alone. In an effort to better understand this, we performed genetic analysis of embryos in a mouse model. We discovered viable embryos that were able to implant and grow into healthy fetuses had a significantly different gene expression pattern, compared to embryos that did not implant or resulted in miscarriage. This work will lead to a better understanding as to which embryos result in successful pregnancies. In addition, this work may improve the way we select embryos for transfer in an IVF cycle. Download the PDF

Clinical Application of Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening at the Blastocyst Stage

In May 2007, the National Foundation for Fertility Research (NFFR) and the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) began the world's first Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS) study for all 23 pairs of chromosomes in a few cells removed from the embryo on day five of development. The goal of CCS is to reduce the likelihood of implantation failure, miscarriage, and pregnancies affected by these abnormalities by only transferring those embryos that have the correct number of chromosomes. Download the PDF

Current Studies

Oocyte Physiology (Study headed by Dr. Rebecca Krisher)

Melissa and RebeccaOocyte quality impacts early embryonic survival, the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, fetal development, and even adult disease. Quality, or developmental competence, is acquired during folliculogenesis as the oocyte grows, and during the period of oocyte maturation. Although meiosis, or nuclear maturation, may be completed successfully, there are a variety of other processes occurring within the cytoplasm of the oocyte that are required for complete developmental competence following fertilization. However, the cellular mechanisms that impart oocyte developmental competence are not well understood. It is essential to understand these processes, as they can be influenced by the nutritional status of the mother, ovarian stimulation, and maternal age. For more information about this study download the PDF

Protein and Amino Acid Analysis of Spent IVF Culture Media

The purpose of this study will be to perform molecular analysis of spent IVF culture media to identify potential biomarkers linked to viability. Currently, there are no definitive biomarkers for viability in human IVF with embryos selected for transfer based on morphology alone. Our hypothesis is that viable embryos will have a specific molecular profile characterizing their ability to develop, implant and progress to a livebirth. Dishes containing only empty drops of spent culture media would normally be discarded during an IVF cycle after removal of the embryos. However, for this study the spent culture media will be analyzed to generate a molecular profile. These profiles will then be grouped according to the outcome of their IVF cycle allowing for the identification of proteins that may correlate with the successful establishment of a clinical pregnancy. If markers of embryo health are identified by analyzing the spent culture media this could translate into the development of a viability assay that would improve the selection of embryos for transfer increasing the chances for establishment of a successful clinical pregnancy.

Molecular Analysis of Reproductive Tissues/Fluids

The purpose of this study will be to collect and analyze reproductive tissues and/or fluids to gain a better understanding of the causes of human infertility and reproductive associated conditions such as, polycystic ovarian syndrome, recurrent pregnancy loss and endometriosis etc. To date, the molecular mechanisms involved in human reproduction and these conditions are poorly understood. This study will involve the collection of reproductive tissues and/or fluids during routine infertility evaluation, treatment or scheduled reproductive surgery. Samples to be obtained include endometrial biopsies, follicular fluid during IVF oocyte aspiration and uterine fluid at the time of embryo transfer. Surgical procedures would include laproscopic biopsies of endometriosis, ovarian cystectomies, hysterscopic myomectomies, endometrial curettage, etc. The samples will be analyzed for both gene and protein expression profiles to determine the underlying biochemical pathways and cellular function. From a clinical perspective, the identification of these molecular mechanisms could improve patient care and management.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis to Assess Aneuploidy

The purpose of this clinical trial is to determine if testing embryos for chromosomal abnormalities prior to transfer will increase pregnancy rates and/or lower rates of clinical miscarriage. Normally, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes in each human cell, for a total of 46 chromosomes. Each of these chromosomes has a characteristic appearance and is assigned a number or letter. Twenty-three chromosomes usually come from the mother and are contained in the egg, and 23 chromosomes come from the father, derived from the sperm. An abnormal number of chromosomes can result when eggs, sperm or embryos divide incorrectly. Such abnormalities in chromosome number are called aneuploidy. A common example is an extra chromosome number 21 found in Down syndrome. It has been estimated that human embryos fertilized in vitro may contain chromosomal abnormalities in as many as 50% of cases. By removing a single cell/s from the egg or embryo, it is possible to determine the chromosome number. To date, it was only possible to screen for up to 9 chromosomes. However, with this clinical trial new technology allows for the screening of all 23 chromosomes. Thus only embryos with the correct number of all 23 chromosomes are then selected for transfer back into the woman’s uterus.

 

Testimonial

Tracy, Denver

“Obstacles were nothing new to my family. As a military couple living oceans apart, our ability to conceive was yet another challenge. Today, my husband and I are the proud parents of two boys.”

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