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Tech & Science IVF pioneer Alan Trounson's work started with sheep fertility, helped forge new research into stem cells

11:25  14 february  2020
11:25  14 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Alan Osborne Trounson (born 16 February 1946) is an Australian embryologist with expertise in stem cell research . Trounson was the President of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine between 2007 and 2014

Alan Trounson is Emeritus Professor Monash University and Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute for He was a pioneer of human in vitro fertilisation ( IVF ) (1977-1996), introducing fertility He founded the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories (MISCL) at Monash University (2004-7).

Alan Trounson sitting on a chair: Alan Trounson returns to the woolsheds where he researched in the 1960s why some sheep had multiple lambs. (Landline: Tim Lee)© Provided by ABC Health Alan Trounson returns to the woolsheds where he researched in the 1960s why some sheep had multiple lambs. (Landline: Tim Lee)

About 10 million babies have been born worldwide through invitro-fertilisation (IVF), but the important role sheep played in the treatment of human infertility is not widely known.

As a young agricultural scientist Professor Alan Trounson helped pioneer human IVF with techniques he discovered while researching sheep fertility in the 1960s in a woolshed near Carrathool, in southern New South Wales.

For the first time in 50 years, he has returned to the shed that helped make Australian scientific history — and recalled the shock of moving from the city to what seemed to him to be little more than a barren plain.

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Professor Trounson ' s presentation focuses on how stem cell research has the potential to yield groundbreaking new tools to understand and develop therapies

Alan Trounson is Emeritus Professor, Monash University and Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute of Medical Research . He is the past President of the Californian Institute for Regenerative Medicine (2007-2014), the Californian state ’ s billion stem cell agency driving research in stem cell biology

"When you looked out the door you could just see for miles into the distance," Dr Trounson said.

"You could see a few sheep here and there, and I was thinking 'goodness me, what have I dropped into?'"

The University of New South Wales built the shed for a team of young scientists to find ways to boost wool and meat yield by improving the genetics and fertility of sheep.

Testing theories

Alan Trounson was focused on why some sheep were more fertile than others.

"I was interested in the physiology of that. Was it ovulation rate or uterine capacity," Professor Trounson said.

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Taking this into account the research group applied their new technique in an attempt to produce human SCNT stem cells . Methods to reprogram normal body cells into pluripotent stem cells were developed in humans in 2007. Fertility and Sterility.

Stem - cell scientist Alan Trounson in San Francisco. Credit:Hugh Hamilton. An ocean and decades away from his days in Melbourne as a pioneer of in Research using embryonic stem cells - using embryos left over from IVF pregnancies - continues to attract similar controversy to the early IVF days

Working with ewes that had multiple births, he soon established it was ovulation rate.

He said the idea was that rather than have single lambs, you should have twins and triplets which would be an economic benefit.

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The development of in - vitro fertilisation techniques made stem cell science possible, the “Now 75 per cent of infertile couples can be helped .” But, in the future, all infertile couples will be Trounson referred specifically to two studies that have succeeded in coaxing ESCs into sperm and eggs in mice.

Alan Trounson , MSc, PhD, “Pluripotent Stem Cells : the Future”. Professor Alan Trounson ’ s research during the late 1970s established IVF as a practical and repeatable method for the treatment of human infertility that was adopted worldwide. He has since initiated many new innovations in ART.

"If the ewes kept feeding twins and triplets then your yield is increasing and of course your turnover and economics improved," he said.

A bigger research station was established at nearby Hay where the work continued on thousands of merino sheep donated by some of Australia's biggest sheep producers.

Groundbreaking work

Noel Corliss the former research station manager said while the work would be mundane for today's scientists, it was remarkable at the time.

"It was groundbreaking I can tell you. Everything was groundbreaking about what they were doing," Mr Corliss said.

Alan Trounson developed his skills in freezing and transferring animal embryos and then studied human embryology at Cambridge in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

Later he collaborated with Professor Carl Wood in Melbourne who was trying to overcome obstacles to human infertility.

"He'd been trying to connect the ovaries to the uterus in women with blocked fallopian tubes, blocked oviducts — and that had failed," Professor Trounson said.

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Dr. Trounson helped derive some of the earliest human embryonic stem cell colonies in the late He also helped start fertility clinics in Australia as well as ES Cell International, a Singapore company He soon turned from research with sheep , however, to pioneering in - vitro fertilization for women

Stem cells - particularly embryonic stem cells - have the potential to become any type of cell from the human body. Trounson ' s unit has recently 'In the long term, fertility treatments will be able to help everyone', he said, adding that embryonic stem cells in particular have 'huge potential' to be used in

He and fellow scientist Neil Moore had a solution derived from work on sheep, which was adapted to increase egg production in women who were struggling to conceive.

This, combined with embryo freezing techniques from his work on cattle, thrust Professor Trounson and a team of scientists into the global race to produce an IVF baby.

IVF babies in Australia

British scientists won that honour with the world's first 'test-tube baby' born in 1978.

Two years later Trounson and Wood's team in Melbourne produced the world's third IVF baby and then the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo.

Their work was highly controversial.

Feminists declared it an abuse of women and conservative Christians denounced it as a crime that violated the sanctity of life.

"We were accused of being murderers," Professor Trounson said.

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Alan Trounson has braved fiery social conflict to deliver IVF and embryonic stem cells to the clinic. In the 1980 s Trounson transformed in vitro fertilisation ( IVF ) from a hit-or-miss procedure into the routine These pioneering technologies made Trounson the target of incensed Catholics, feminists

Research with embryonic stem cells may lead to new , more effective treatments for serious human Myth We don’t need embryonic stem cell research because of the recent breakthrough enabling scientists Myth Embryos discarded by fertility clinics could be donated to another family rather than

"Because some people equate embryos with people and if they didn't survive in the IVF process it was akin to murder.

"So it was pretty difficult."

Opposition subsided and the scientists took IVF from hit-and-miss to a routine procedure.

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“ Alan Trounson made a phenomenal contribution to the global advance of stem cell therapies through his six year service as President of California’ s Jeff Sheehy, another longtime Board member and a Patient Advocate for HIV says; " Alan has been an irresistible force in moving stem cell therapies into

Renowned international stem cell research and IVF pioneer , Professor Alan Trounson , will visit Gippsland next month to speak to Year A medical A long career in IVF and stem cell research . Professor Trounson was a pioneer of human in vitro fertilisation ( IVF ), introducing fertility drugs

Stem cells discovery

Professor Trounson went on to discover nerve stem cells could be derived from embryonic stem cells and from 2007 spent seven years leading the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

"He has this uncanny skill to see where other people don't see," his colleague, Melbourne immunologist Professor Richard Boyd, said.

"He's really a visionary."

With numerous international honours in the fields of stem cells, cloning, gene storage, IVF and agricultural science, Professor Trounson is now working on using cancer patients' stem cells to attack the disease.

His focus is on ovarian and blood-related cancers.

"If we're able to get patients to walk away from ovarian cancer, that'll do," he said, "that'll be a good enough life I think."

On his visit back to his rudimentary woolshed laboratory he reminisced about his life's journey.

"It just took me back to a place where the origins of what I've been doing were really embedded," Professor Trounson said.

"And when I was out here and doing that work I had no idea of what might happen as a consequence."

And it began with the humble merino sheep.

Tributes flow for 'superb bushman' Peter Pangquee, who was instrumental in protecting Kakadu .
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