The research group BITE studies spermatogenesis with a special focus on spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). SSC depletion, which is a major side effect of gonadotoxic treatment or the result of a genetic disorder, such as Klinefelter Syndrome, leads to infertility. Our current aim is to develop strategies to prevent infertility after SSC loss. Fertility can be preserved by either limiting the loss of gametes and their precursors or by storing gametes and/or their precursors. While adult men can bank their spermatozoa prior to gonadotoxic treatment (e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy), no options are available to preserve fertility in prepubertal boys, who do not have active spermatogenesis yet. Storing SSCs before starting gonadotoxic treatment may therefore be a strategy to prevent infertility on the long term. After being cured, SSCs may be reintroduced into the seminiferous tubules in order to regenerate spermatogenesis. Alternatively, testicular tissue containing SSCs may be grafted. However, this strategy is not possible for patients with Klinefelter Syndrome since the testes of these boys are sclerotized at adult age. For these patients in vitro spermatogenesis would be helpful.
Our research therefore focusses on:
- the long-term effects of a testicular tissue biopsy procedure performed at young age
- developing and implementing methods to transplant SSCs or testicular tissue
- generating sperm cells in vitro
- studying Klinefelter Syndrome - related infertility