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Grant of Fertility Innovation

Paola Piomboni

Professor Paola Piomboni, PhD

 

Professor Paola Piombini is Associated Professor of Applied Biology at the Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, University of Siena, Italy. She is also chief of the Laboratory of Assisted Reproductive Technology, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Siena University Hospital, and also has clinical embryologist certifi cation from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE, 2010). Prof. Piombini gained both her initial degree in Biological Sciences and PhD from the University of Siena, where her doctoral research focused on the biology of germ cells. Following completion of her PhD, she was employed as a Researcher of Applied Biology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Siena from 1998, and subsequently appointed as Associated Professor of Applied Biology in 2007. She achieved national habilitation to full Professor of Applied Biology in 2014. 

Prof. Piombini has gained several grant awards, including those for the Italian Health Ministry, Research Projects on AIDS; Italian Ministry of University (MIUR) Research Projects of National Interest (PRIN) and the Monte dei Paschi Bank Foundation for Siena University. Her extensive experience has enabled membership of key professional societies, including Faculty of 1000 (Reproductive Endocrinology Section); the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology; the Italian Society of Reproduction (SIDR); the Italian Association of Biology and General and Molecular Genetic, and Italian Society of Embryology, Reproduction and Research (SIERR). 

In addition to authoring 110 internationally-published, peer-reviewed articles focusing on male and female reproduction (H-index (Scopus): 30. Citations (Scopus) 2555). Prof. Piombini also serves on the Editorial Board of Frontiers in Endocrinology, and as peer-reviewer for several international journals.

 

Project: Exosomal profi le of the receptive endometrium: a source of non-invasive biomarkers for guiding of a successuful embryo implantation

 

Accurate timing of embryo transfer is a critical clinical need in reproductive medicine. Several factors secreted by the endometrium into uterine fluid, control implantation by directly affecting blastocyst development, and/or by modulating the expression of key epithelial adhesion molecules to embryo-endometrial cross-talk for successful implantation. Some of these molecules may be sorted from cytoplasmic endosomal compartments into secretory exosomes/Evs, which selectively interact with target cells to deliver their biologically competent cargo of lipids, proteins and RNA. Our interest in characterization of uterine released exosome/EVs is due to their dual role in implantation physiology: they simultaneously as effectors of endometrium/embryo cross talk, and as indicators of the specific molecular profile that is distinctive of the implantation window. 

The overall aim of this project is the identification of a specifi c exosome molecular profile indicative of endometrial receptivity as a pillar of a biofluid biopsy test, thereby providing a non-invasive, affordable and reliable tool for improved, personalized patient treatment. 

The pre-specified primary outcome the identification of an implantation window related pattern of RNA, miRNA and proteins embedded in exosomes/EVs retrieved from patients’ uterine fluid serum and urine samples (truly non-invasive), during stimulated and natural cycles. The secondary outcome is a alidation of a prototype exosome targeted in vitro assay in a cohort of patients undergoing embryo transfer, in correlation with standard histo-morphological parameters selection of the highest endometrial receptivity window for successful single embryo/blastocyst transfer and ultimately clinical pregnancy and take-home baby rates. 

The technological platform set up with this project will likely lead to the identification of an informative biomarker panel, with the potential to drive the selection of a single embryo/blastocyst transfer in the proper time with the highest endometrial receptivity. Hence, this approach will avoid the systematic transfer of fresh embryos in a non-receptive endometrium, increase ART efficiency, decrease costs, time and patient discomfort, while taking advantage of the embryo vitrification procedures. This clinical approach may be more widely beneficial not only in ART, but also in the treatment of common pathologies, such as endometriosis or adenomyosis that may negatively influencing the beginning of the pregnancy. In addition, it is very likely that this accurate characterization of EXs/MVs entity and composition may provide additional information on the uterine microenvironment, paving the way for the development of effective drugs for the amelioration of uterine receptivity, both in physiological and pathological conditions.