According to the WHO, about 15% of couples of reproductive age are affected by infertility worldwide. The main task of the Lab-on-a-Chip research team of the National Laboratory for Human Reproduction is to help these couples by examining the follicular fluid of participants in the in vitro fertilization program using a large-scale, analytical method and mapping its composition. The follicular fluid is the fluid that surrounds the ovum, which affects the development of the follicles and the maturation of the eggs, and helps communication between the follicles and the eggs. Previous research has already shown that understanding its composition can aid in a more accurate assessment of the outcome of in vitro fertilization . In our research, we map the protein, lipid, and metabolite profile of the follicular fluid by mass spectrometry coupled to high performance liquid chromatography. While chromatography helps to separate our sample by component, mass spectrometry identifies these components. The identified components provide an opportunity to identify biomarker or biomarkers that provide predictive value for oocyte health. These biomarkers can be analyzed and validated using a variety of biological, biochemical, and molecular biological methods and then compared with pregnant and nonpregnant groups. Quantitative comparisons of biomarkers between pregnant and non-pregnant groups may help in assessing the likelihood of developing pregnancy. In parallel with biomarker research, a complex analysis of the composition of the follicular fluid is carried out, especially with particular regard to signal transduction processes, as differences in these processes may reduce the success of fertilization.
Another area of research for the Research Group is the mass spectrometric and lab-on-a-chip based quantitative analysis of an existing potential marker. Quantitative determination of the haptoglobin alpha-1 chain in the medium of artificially fertilized embryos proved to be a potential marker of embryo viability in our preliminary studies and may facilitate the selection of the most appropriate embryo for implantation. The tests are performed by analyzing the nutrient solutions remaining after the implantation of the artificially fertilized embryos.