Instituto Bernabeu Biotech (IB BIOTECH), part of the Instituto Bernabeu Group, is a research centre focused on using advances in genetics and molecular biology to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hereditary diseases and infertility. Lead scientist Dr Belén Lledó discusses the laboratory's research and using biochip array technology from Randox Biosciences.
Dr Belén Lledó: The aim of IB BIOTECH is to offer the most advanced techniques developed for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. The Randox biochip array technology allows us to detect microorganisms that could explain the fertility problem and then apply the most accurate therapy to achieve pregnancy.
This technique has valuable features compared with other techniques: the sample is easy to obtain from the patient; multiple microorganisms are detected with accurate diagnosis within the same sample and polymerase chain reaction (PCR); and it offers excellent cost effectiveness. The most valuable characteristic for the patient is that after having sexual contact with a risk of infection, they don't need to wait for an immunological seroconversion.
There is an increasing prevalence of STIs in the populations of developed countries, and studies show that some STI pathogens are associated with reduced reproductive success. If not controlled and treated, these infections could even elicit tubal obstruction, miscarriages, preterm birth and unexplained infertility. For example, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma hominis and Chlamydia trachomatis are mainly associated with female infertility. The detection of sexually transmitted microorganisms therefore has great clinical importance.
One of the main advantages of the STI biochip test is that we can obtain a diagnosis of an infection as soon as the patient has contact with the microorganism. Likewise, the molecular biology technique that it uses allows us to obtain the result within just a few hours. Multiplexing different microorganisms also gives us some advantages. Thanks to the high sensitivity of the technique, we can obtain enough DNA to perform the test from just one sample.
The protocol we need to perform the biochip test is as simple as a single PCR in a single tube. We just need to add the DNA sample and the reagents for the multiplex PCR. Once the PCR finishes, we hybridise and detect in the biochip the DNA amplified from the sample. After that, the result could be automatically scanned, and the report obtained.
The Randox investigator scans the biochip after DNA hybridisation and gives us the final result. An automatic report can be generated from each sample. Furthermore, from every sample, we obtain a positive or negative result for each of the ten microorganisms analysed: so the result is clear, objective and easy to interpret.
Since we incorporated the biochip technology in our laboratory, we have increased the number of tests we perform. Diagnosing infertility requires a multidisciplinary approach: genetic, sonographic, hormonal and andrological tests must be performed in order to determine the etiology of the infertility. However, one important area in the diagnosis is STIs, and this is not studied due to the lack of cost-effective tests available.
The work in IB BIOTECH focuses on two main areas: diagnosis services and research and development. We include in our list of diagnosis services the most up-to-date and advanced techniques; as part of this, the Randox biochip technology contributes towards increasing the innovative techniques we can offer to our patients.
It also helps within our other areas of expertise, with an increased possibility of undertaking innovative research. For example, we have recently begun a project to find biomarkers involved in the immunological effect of fertility, using the Randox biochip technique.