VUB spin-off Lavima Fertility develops novel fertility treatment that reduces risks and burden
March, 9th, 2022 – Couples unable to get pregnant naturally often resort to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) to fulfil their desire to have children. To obtain mature eggs for IVF, women typically undergo ovarian stimulation with hormones which can be very burdensome. A team of scientists of the Follicle Biology (FOBI) Research Laboratory at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in collaboration with the UZ Brussel fertility clinic has succeeded in developing a novel method for In Vitro Maturation (IVM) of oocytes, called CAPA-IVM. This is a method allowing a mild and low-burden fertility treatment for subfertile patients. To bring the technique to the patient, Lavima Fertility, a spin-off company of the VUB and UZ Brussel, was created.
The CAPA-IVM method is an alternative approach to obtaining eggs in women undergoing IVF, in which the egg cells of the woman are retrieved after minimal or even absent hormone treatment and then matured in vitro. The eggs are then fertilized and follow the standard embryo culture and transfer procedures as in standard IVF. The CAPA-IVM technology could become a more patient-friendly alternative to standard IVF as it reduces the exposure to hormones and avoids the associated hormonal side effects.
Initial clinical evidence of the efficacy and safety of the CAPA-IVM technology is very promising. A total of 96 babies were born by CAPA-IVM as a result of the published randomized study comparing CAPA-IVM to standard IVF1. The neonatal health of the babies born from either IVF approach was similar.1
CAPA-IVM can also be applied in the field of oncofertility which aims at preserving oocytes in female cancer patients.
“The main advantage of CAPA-IVM is that it reduces risks and burden for people who wish to become parents. We also enable new options for cancer patients.”
Em. Prof. Dr. Johan Smitz, VUB
“We are proud that research from UZ Brussel can now be further harnessed to help even more patients through the creation of Lavima Fertility. This opens up perspectives for many cancer patients and women with PCOS.”
Prof. Dr. Marc Noppen, CEO UZ Brussel
1. Vuong L, et al.: In vitro maturation of oocytes versus conventional IVF in women with infertility and a high antral follicle count: a randomized non-inferiority controlled trial. Hum Reprod. 2020,35: 2537-2547.
Prof. Dr. Andre Rosenthal
Prof. Dr. Johan Smitz
About Lavima Fertility, Inc.
Lavima, a US stock corporation, was founded in 2020 by em. Prof. Dr. Johan Smitz (VUB), Prof. Dr. Andre Rosenthal (ex Roche Diagnostics, US) and Elien van Hecke (ex Roche Diagnostics, Belgium) based on the work carried out over the past ten years at VUB and UZ Brussel. In September 2020, Lavima obtained an exclusive license to the CAPA technology from VUB. In 2021, Dr. Joan-Carles Arce (ex Ferring Pharmaceuticals) joined the founder team. Lavima is pursuing the future development and commercialization of the CAPA technology.
The Follicle Biology Laboratory of the VUB carries out research in the field of oocyte biology including the design and validation of new culture systems for ovarian follicles and unripe egg cells to establish practical, applicable strategies for fertility clinics.
About Brussels IVF
Brussels IVF (former CRG), the fertility clinic of UZ Brussel, specialises in fertility treatments (ART). We have an international reputation as pioneers in the development of ART-techniques and their application. Since the creation in 1983, more than 40.000 babies have been born following fertility treatment of the parents.
As a university institution within the VUB network, Brussels IVF also has an academic mission: our centre is also a training institute and acts as an engine for scientific research.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.
About UZ Brussel
UZ Brussel (University Hospital Brussels) has a staff of more than 3,800 employees. It is attached to the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) on the Brussels Health Campus in Jette. With 721 hospital beds, it accounts for 30,779 admissions of patients each year from Belgium and abroad, 412,246 consultations (emergencies not included) and 78,840 patients at the emergency care. Its philosophy is founded on three principles: Dutch-speaking, pluralist and social. As a university hospital, it also has a teaching mission and conducts scientific research.
About VUB Vice-Rectorate Innovation & Industry Relations
The mission of the Vice-Rectorate Innovation & Industry Relations is to create a positive impact on society through the valorization of scientific research. Its operational and multidisciplinary team, VUB TechTransfer, aims to connect the university’s research expertise with society-industry, together with its partners VUB Foundation and Crosstalks.