All scientific research is conducted within the ‘Reproductive Genetics and Regenerative Medicine’ or REGE cluster of the Faculty of Medicine of the Free University of Brussels. This REGE cluster consists of seven research groups, and our centre works closely with several of these research groups. Fundamental (or academic) scientific research is a prerequisite for improving assisted reproductive technologies.
Scientific research on reproductive human material is only possible with the patient’s prior and explicit consent. This refers to research on oocytes, sperm cells or embryos, which you can no longer, may not or do not want to use as part of your treatment.
To conduct this research on human tissue, prospective parents must sign the necessary informed consent forms with their counsellor before starting treatment. When signing this form, you decide whether your reproductive material may be used for research after which it is destroyed or whether it must be destroyed immediately. The decision is individual for gametes: women make the decision about their oocytes, men about their sperm cells. For embryos, the decision is made as a couple.
With the consent form, you decide whether you want to take part in research but also in which research areas and/or specific projects you want to participate, and whether your patient data may be shared.
If you agree to donate reproductive material for training or scientific research, it can be used for research in various fields:
1.Training of laboratory staff
To apply complex technologies (e.g., microinjection of oocytes, freezing and thawing of gametes and embryos, removing one or more cells from embryos (embryo biopsy) and learning how to perform genetic screening of gametes and embryos) in a qualitative manner, our employees have to train with real gametes and embryos first.
2. Scientific research in five domains
- Domain A – Improving laboratory techniques
- Domain B – Knowledge of embryonic development and implantation of the embryo into the uterus
- Domain C – Knowledge of embryo genetics
- Domain D – Embryonic stem cell research
- Domain E – Knowledge and application of genome editing
If you consent to scientific research but your gametes or embryos are not suitable or not needed for scientific research or training at that time, they will be destroyed.