Development Areas 2009-2015

Novel approaches for human infertility diagnostics


Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after regular unprotected sexual intercourse for 1 year. Based on population surveys the prevalence of infertility ranges up to 20%, thus posing a widespread health problem. The reasons for couple’s infertility can broadly be divided between female- and male-related problems, while in notable number of cases the actual cause for the infertility remains unexplained. Diagnostics of infertility has recently been spurred by technological achievements within the field of biomedicine. The advanced in vivo and ex vivo tissue imaging technologies, high-throughput (HTP), reliable and cost-effective human genetics, genomics, post-genomics and immunology approaches hold great hope to revolutionize the infertility diagnostics. This development area seeks to implement latest breakthrough biomedical technologies to update the current possibilities for female and male infertility diagnostics.

Results as at January 2015:

• A database for chromosomal aberrations and gene mutations causing male infertility has been created and a genetic test for male infertility has been developed. This test was included in the product portfolio of our commercial partner Asper Biotech in 2014;

• A database of autoantigenic proteins has been created and the development of an immunochip for diagnosing prostatitis and prostate cancer has begun in the sub-project dealing with the diagnostic tests for prostatitis;

• A non-invasive test (based on miRNAs and antibodies) for endometriosis has reached the validation phase;

• Genetic tests for assessing the ovarian reserve and response to controlled ovarian stimulation have been developed. Biomarkers (mRNAs and miRNAs) for assessing endometrial quality have also been determined and a test prototype for assesing endometrial function has been developed;

• The Competence Centre on Health Technologies (CCHT) tissue biobank has been established;

• Three patent applications have been filed;

• Publications and theses can be found from the main menu on the left.

Advances for human and animal assisted reproductive technologies


This development area focuses on human and animal ART. Although being technologically comparable, the human ART is practiced to overcome couple’s infertility, while with animals it is used to improve the herd’s quality. However, both activities have become steadily more and more popular and account for substantial proportions of reproductive health care and biotechnology sectors in clinical and veterinary medicine, respectively. Moreover, despite the already active use, both markets hold even greater promise for future growth. For these reasons, the technologies and devices necessary for solving the most cumbersome obstacles in front of human and animal ART are impatiently waited and possess the inherent potential to be commercially beneficial.

Results as at January 2015:

• Hypersensitive sensors for assessing embryo quality in ART have been developed and are ready for validation;

• A technology for producing pharmaceutical compounds using biotechnology and the transgenic cloned bovine technology has been developed. Two cloned calves have been born;

• A project for transferring the transgenic animal technology also to Vietnam is being prepared;

• One patent application has been filed;

• Publications and theses can be found from the main menu on the left.

Microecological approaches for human reproductive biomedicine


This development area will focus on the understanding of the individually different microbiota of genital tract in both men and women to define normal microbial ecology in an elaborate study using multiple approaches. Based on this knowledge, the assessment of microecological relations in this organ system will be performed in case of microecological disorders (bacterial vaginosis and prostatitis). Moreover, our comparative studies will provide unique information about genital tract microflora of the couples in order to reveal how these imbalanced human-microbe relations affect the partner’s microbiota. This data set may open several new prospects to seek approaches and create tools to diagnose and restore, if necessary, the microecological balance in genital tract using microflora-based treatment and prophylactic schemes.

The results as at January 2015:

• A collection of genital tract microbiota bacteria (CREP) has been established that includes more than 1000 bacterial strains. CREP is one of the three collections at Estonian Electronic Microbial Database;

• Selected probiotic strains for treatment of bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis and urethritis have successfully undergone effectiveness and safety tests, and clinical trials will begin in February 2015;

• Publications and theses can be found from the main menu on the left.