De Geyter

Prof. Dr. Christian De Geyter
Div. of Gynecological Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine
University Hospital Basel
Research Group “Gynecological Endocrinology”
Department of Biomedicine
Spitalstrasse 12
CH-4031 Basel / Switzerland

Stem cell research related to reproductive medicine

Despite the recent development of induced pluripotent stem cell technology (iPS), embryonic stem cells (ESC) remain the gold standard in stem cell research. The access to supernumerary human embryos, the possibility to trace back the very origin of those supernumerary embryos and the maintenance of quality assurance throughout the entire process justify the development of specialized centres dealing both with assisted human reproduction and the derivation of human ESC lines together with iPS under good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions. The unit of assisted reproductive medicine located in the University Hospital of Basel has instituted a GMP-grade laboratory for the isolation and characterization of new human ESC lines. These activities have resulted in the derivation and characterization of three novel human ESC lines (CHES2, CHES3 and CHES5), among them the first in Switzerland with a normal chromosome complement. These were derived from 8 embryos, donated for research in accordance with the approval of the local ethics committee (EKBB), of the Federal Ministry of Health (BAG) and through a long-standing collaboration with the Stem Cell Laboratory of the University of Geneva and of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. In addition, in close collaboration with a proteomic institution in California (USA), a novel protocol for the non-viral-mediated production of iPS is underway thereby using recombinant proteins for reprogramming of somatic cells. A major motivation for our involvement in the production and culture of ESC lines has always been the concomitant improvement of our clinical assisted reproductive medicine programme directly benefiting to our patients. Our commitment in hESC research has allowed us to improve and extend the culture conditions in clinical assisted reproductive medicine culminating in improved pregnancy rates and in the avoidance of multiple pregnancy rates.

Translational research related to stem cell technology

Our research unit has demonstrated that approximately 4 % of ovarian follicular cells possess stem cell-like characteristics of the mesenchymal lineage. Because of the presence of the FSH-receptor on their surface, these stem cells are committed to become granulosa cells. Using technology adopted from tissue engineering, these ovarian stem cells can now be cultured over prolonged time periods while maintaining the biological and endocrine characteristics of granulosa cells. These constructs are now being further developed for the long-term culture and maturation of ovarian follicles surrounding oocytes.

For detail and recent publications:

University Hospital Basel