According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infertility is a global public health issue and it is increasing for 10% every year. The overall burden of subfertility/infertility is significant, likely underestimated, and has not displayed any decrease over the last 20 years. According to WHO the increasing number of unexplained cases of infertile males in the peak of the reproductive period, and a decrease of the fertility rate in men younger than age 30, suggest an urgent need for accurate diagnostic. A team of scientists from University of Novi Sad Mito-REBELS (https://mito-rebels.pmf.uns.ac.rs/mito-rebels-engl/; https://expo2020.pks.rs/mito-rebels/ ) have found a feasible solution for this addressing this worldwide issue.
Professor Silvana Andric is a lecturer at the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sciences. She is a PhD in male reproductive endocrinology and post-doctoral training in cell signalling related to reproductive endocrinology. Finally, Professor Andric has 30 years of experience in research related to male reproductive biology and 20 years of experience in teaching different courses related to reproductive biology and cell signalling. Years ago, together with Mito-REBELS team (https://mito-rebels.pmf.uns.ac.rs/mito-rebels-engl) she embarked on an ambitious task of offering solution to the increasing global problem of male infertility and they came up with a innovative solution that is based on the relation of mitochondria and sperm functionality . Professor Andric explains that the close relationship between mitochondria and sperm functionality was clear, but unfortunately was not exploited in clinical practice. Therefore, they worked on this proposal which is based on research initially on animal models and later on human samples where they learned that have good results on regular testing procedures, but are infertile. “So, through this project we came up with a totally new approach in assessment of infertility or subfertility in males,” says Professor Andric.
Elaborating further on the topic, Professor Andric further explains that their invention is based on molecular approach, a technology based on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which is regularly used in diagnostic (also for the SaRS-Cov2). Therefore, they don’t need to establish new technology in order to start the implementation of the solution.
Despite the scientific success, professor and her team had to do an additional work in order to bring this innovation to life, work that was out of their professional scope. This included market strategy, trade mark related and prototyping related documents and similar. On this they got a support from and EU funded EU4TECH project and great people (dr Lisa Cowey, dr Davorka Forjan, dr Krzysztof Gulda, etc). Thanks to this support, now professor Andric and her team will be able to acquire additional funding or investors for the project, initiate a start-up or in some other way place the product in the market. “The support that we got from the EU4 TECH project was crucial, enormous and extremely important,” says professor Andric.
The invention is planned to be offered to the market sometime next year. Professor Andric says that she is interested to keep this invention as part of the University by creating a sort of spin off that would give an opportunity to Mito-REBELS team and most importantly to the students to grow bigger and sign off also other important inventions.
About the project
EU4TECH PoC Western Balkans was a two-year multi-country Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) project funded by the EU through the Western Balkans Enterprise and Development Innovation Facility (WBEDIF). The project covered the six economies of the Western Balkans region. Projects supported originated from public research organisations and start-ups/ small and medium-sized enterprises.
WBEDIF is one of the private sector instruments supported by the Western Balkans Investment Framework – a joint initiative of the EU, financial organisations, bilateral donors and beneficiaries, aimed at enhancing harmonisation and cooperation in investments for the socio-economic development of the region and contributing to the European perspective of the Western Balkans.
The WBIF is the main vehicle for implementation of the EU’s ambitious Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. Enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector, and stepping up support to research and innovation is at the heart of the Plan.
Photo credits: Mito Rebels
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