Research Leader: Associate Professor Jeremy Thompson
The Early Development group studies the metabolic and cell signalling involved in the earliest events of mammalian development. Specifically, the group is interested in how oocytes mature and how early embryos grow, and what the impact of the environment that surrounds oocytes and embryos has on their growth, both in the short and long term.
This is important as we now realise that change in the "micro-environment" during the time oocytes mature and embryos are formed can have effects on not only early development, but on fetal and placental development and even health of the child and potentially the adult. This is particularly concerning considering that 3% of Australian babies are created using IVF techniques, which is an "artificial" environment that provides sufficient support for early development to proceed, yet may leave an
unmeasured legacy later in life.
This work focuses on the role of oxygen concentration and associated signalling mechanisms, energy substrate utilisation and metabolism and cellular signalling in response to metabolism and, finally, how peptide hormones produced by the reproductive tract affect metabolic and
The group has been active in developing commercial products for the assisted reproductive technology industry, in both clinical and agricultural applications. Specifically, developing nutritive solutions for human oocytes and embryos (and for other species), which are then manufactured and marketed by companies.
Our research has shown that the metabolic environment surrounding oocytes during the first hour of in vitro maturation is critical to subsequent oocyte developmental competence. This is relevant to practice, as many operators aspirate oocytes with simple buffered solutions. The group has also developed new media systems for human in vitro maturation that significantly support maturation, which are currently under clinical trial evaluation.
- Oocyte maturation
- Metabolic signalling and regulating oocyte competence
- Role of oocyte secreted factor regulating oocyte competence
- Role of oxygen and Hypoxia Inducible Factor in Reproductive Biology
- Role in oocyte maturation and ovarian function, early embryo development and placental development and function
- Production of clinical and veterinary products for more efficient delivery of reproductive technologies
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