Thanks for a ‘rainbow baby’

Our patient Jenae says (with emojis):

“Dr. Ziegler is the best, he’s so kind and very thorough!! Thank you for my rainbow baby :)))”

Jenae, congratulations and thank you so much for your kind words. You can read other patients’ shared experiences with us at our web site.

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Stem cells can create human embryo structure

Scientists have discovered a simple, efficient way to recreate the early structure of the human embryo from stem cells in the laboratory. The new approach unlocks news ways of studying human fertility and reproduction.

Stem cells have the ability to turn into different types of cell. Now, in research published in Cell Stem Cell, scientists at the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute, working with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, both in the U.K., have developed a method to organize lab-grown stem cells into an accurate model of the first stage of human embryo development.

The ability to create artificial early human embryos could benefit research into infertility, by furthering understanding of how embryos develop, and the conditions needed to avoid miscarriage and other complications. The embryo models can also be used to test conditions that may improve the development of embryos in assisted conception procedures such as IVF.

The new discovery comes after the team found that a human stem cell was able to generate the founding elements of a blastocyst, the very early formation of an embryo after a fertilized egg divides. Professor Austin Smith, Director of the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute, said, “Finding that stem cells can create all the elements of an early embryo is a revelation. The stem cells come from a fully formed blastocyst, yet they are able to recreate exactly the same whole embryo structure. This is quite remarkable and unlocks exciting possibilities for learning about the human embryo.”

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How aging impairs women’s fertility

Age may adversely affect women’s fertility by impairing levels of RNA molecules, which in turn alter the function of genes involved in key biological pathways during the final maturation stage of a human egg cell, according to the findings of a new study published in the journal Aging Cell.

European researchers sequenced the RNA molecules, also known as the transcriptome, within oocytes to understand which genes are affected in their activity by age. They used single-cell sequencing to analyze the transcriptome of 72 individual oocytes from 37 donors between 18 and 43 years of age.

According to the researchers, the findings suggest that age may influence an oocyte’s ability to process gene products critical for the last steps of their development. “Here we show that the final step of oocyte maturation itself might be negatively affected by age, which is critical for reproduction because it provides the material early embryos need to develop normally and survive,” said Bernhard Payer, co-author of the study. “What we don’t know yet, is which of these changes are merely a consequence of the aging process and which may directly contribute to the quality drop in oocytes with age.”

The authors conclude that though more studies are required, their findings may result in the future development of new diagnostic tools to better assess oocyte quality in reproductive medicine, as well as potential drug treatments that modulate the affected pathways to rejuvenate aged oocytes.

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Scientist wants to ‘reinvent the uterus’

“Bioengineer Linda Griffith once grew a human ear on the back of a mouse. Now she is reframing endometriosis – a ‘women’s disease’ – as a key to unlocking some of biology’s greatest secrets.”

So begins an article in the New York Times, describing Dr. Griffith’s work. She founded her lab at the M.I.T. Center for Gynepathology Research in 2009 in order to help understand endometriosis, a chronic disorder that is a cause of pain and, in some cases, infertility.

“Yet it suffers from a branding problem: It falls into the abyss of ‘women’s diseases’ (overlooked), diseases that don’t kill you (unimportant) and menstrual problems (taboo),” the article states. “Researchers often call endometriosis ‘benign,’ as in noncancerous — but doing so, Dr. Griffith believes, lessens the seriousness of a common, painful disease.”

She wants to “change the conversation, from one of women’s pain to one of biomarkers, genetics and molecular networks. ‘I don’t want to make endometriosis a women’s issue,’ she told the M.I.T. Tech Review in 2014. ‘I want to make it an M.I.T. issue.’”

Read about her important work here.

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Chrissy Teigen joins RESOLVE as fertility advocate

Cookbook author and mom Chrissy Teigen recently joined RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Ferring Pharmaceuticals to launch Fertility Out Loud, a new campaign designed to help anyone struggling to start or grow their family. Teigen, who has been open about her own family-building challenges, urges the 1 in 8 couples having trouble getting or staying pregnant to speak up, take action and seek help sooner by visiting FertilityOutLoud.com.

“I am honored to be launching the Fertility Out Loud campaign because it is deeply personal to me. For years, I have been vocal about the fact that John and I needed help in order to have children,” Teigen said. “Oftentimes, what kept me going through my IVF journey was the support I received from family, friends and the fertility community. And now I want to offer my support in return. I want to make sure anyone struggling knows that they are not alone, and I want to encourage them to embrace their fertility out loud and speak up to find the help they need. There’s no shame in sharing your story and advocating for yourself.”

FertilityOutLoud.com offers resources to support those struggling including a search engine to help visitors find a fertility specialist near them, a platform that provides an opportunity to schedule an initial virtual consultation, information on fertility treatments and access to care and an encouraging letter from Chrissy. FertilityOutLoud also provides insights from a community of people who’ve been through it on Instagram and Facebook.

“Hearing Chrissy advocate for this patient community is especially encouraging during National Infertility Awareness Week, a week that unites millions of people who want to remove the stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families,” said Barbara Collura, CEO and President of RESOLVE. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow their family and our collective efforts make a difference, paving the way for change around important issues.”

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New study ‘reassuring’ to fertility patients

A study looking into the effects on DNA in newborns conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) has added to the understanding that those children grow and develop no differently than other children.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development evaluated data on DNA in children beginning at birth and when they were 8 to 10 years old. The children were born in New York State from 2008 to 2010.

“When considered along with our previous studies finding no differences in children’s growth and development, our current study should be reassuring to couples who have conceived with fertility treatments and to those considering these methods,” said lead author Dr. Edwina Yeung.

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New insight into embryo development

Pioneering research led by experts from the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute in the U.K. has provided new insight into formation of the human embryo. The team of researchers discovered a unique regenerative property of cells in the early human embryo.

The first tissue to form in the embryo of mammals is the trophectoderm, which goes on to connect with the uterus and make the placenta. Previous research in mice found that trophectoderm is only made once. In the new study, however, the research team found that human early embryos are able to regenerate trophectoderm. They also showed that human embryonic stem cells grown in the laboratory can similarly continue to produce trophectoderm and placental cell types.

These findings show unexpected flexibility in human embryo development and may directly benefit assisted conception (IVF) treatments. In addition, being able to produce early human placental tissue opens a door to finding causes of infertility and miscarriage.

The study was published in Cell Stem Cell.

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Covid vaccine safe during pregnancy, research affirms

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April adds to the growing research that the two most widely used Covid-19 vaccines – the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – appear to be safe during pregnancy.

Researchers reviewed data on 35,691 pregnant women, including 3,958 participants who were followed during their pregnancy, between Dec. 14, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. The women self-reported information to the CDC’s V-safe smartphone-based surveillance system and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The respondents were all between 16 and 54 years old.

The study found that rates of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and birth defects were similar to the rates before the pandemic. As to side effects, the women were slightly more likely to report pain at the injection site, but less likely to report the other side effects.

The CDC says that pregnant women with Covid-19 are at increased risk for severe illness and poor outcomes such as preterm birth. This new research adds to existing research showing the coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the CDC recommends the vaccine for those women.

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Two big thumbs up for RSCNJ

We are happy to share two recent reviews from our patients.

Courtney writes: “I am extremely pleased with the service and care I received from Dr. Ziegler and his staff. Every step of this journey was explained and not only that, was done so in a kind, caring way. I couldn’t be happier and would recommend this office to everyone. I will absolutely be using this office for future fertility needs. A BIG thank you to Dr. Ziegler and his staff!”

And Natasha says, “Dr. Martinez and his staff made me feel right at home. Their staff was kind, knowledgeable and caring. I would highly recommend the Reproductive Science Center to anyone who is interested in using their services.”

Thanks to them both, and to everyone who posts kind reviews of our services. You can read more like these at our web site.

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Have you entered our National Infertility Awareness Week raffle?

Time is running out for you to enter RSCNJ’s raffle, in support of National Infertility Awareness Week 2021. You have until April 24 to enter.

RSCNJ is raffling off one free IUI cycle for a self-pay patient. The IUI cycle will include initial consult and monitoring; medication and diagnostic testing are not included. The cycle is non-transferrable and the winner will have through the end of 2021 to claim or use the cycle.

To enter the raffle, just “like” our Facebook page by April 24, and send us a private message with your name, email address and phone number during NIAW.

Good luck!

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