BIOTECHNOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION AND STEM CELLS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The objective of this course is to give students notions on the origin of sexual reproduction, sex determination and on the cytological and molecular aspects of oogenesis, spermatogenesis, fertilisation, premplantation development and of the embryonic stem cells.
Also, the course will allow the acquisition of competences on the techniques for farm animal transgenesis and cloning. Biomedical applications: animals as bioreactors, animals as model for human diseases. Functional foods and animal biotechnology. Agricultural applications: modification of milk and meat composition; improvement of farm animal growth curve and resistance to diseases. Animal transgenesis and reproduction. Cloned and transgenic animals welfare. Genetically modified animals and food production.
Course contents summary
The objective of this course is to give students notions on the origin of sexual reproduction, sex determination and on the cytological and molecular aspects of oogenesis, spermatogenesis, fertilisation, preimplantation development and of the embryonic stem cells. Frontal lessons will be followed by practical insights. The course will also address two main areas of cell/animal manipulation and their implications in veterinary medicine. One main objective of the course is the acquisition of a solid knowledge about transgenesis and cloning of farm animal. With this aim the different approaches to animal genome modification will be evaluated both from the methodological and the scientific point of view. Finally, biomedical and agricultural applications of transgenic and cloned livestock, animal welfare, and food safety and quality issues will be addressed.
In the second part of the course, the basic principles of regenerative medicine and its application in veterinary medicine will be described. In particular, the biological characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells and of induced pluripotent cells will be focussed. Furthermore, examples of their applications in veterinary medicine will be illustrated with a critical discussion of the clinical outcomes.
The course will describe the fundamental aspects of:
- Origin of sexual reproduction and sex determination
- Cell cycle and meiosis
- Cytological and molecular aspects of spermatogenesis
- Cytological and molecular aspects of oogenesis
- Acquisition of the oocyte developmental competence
- Cytological and molecular aspects of fertilisation
- Engineering the ovarian follicle
- Cytological and molecular aspects of preimplantation development
- Micromanipulation of the preimplantation embryo
- Origin of stemness
- Sources of stem cells
- Markers of embryonic stem cells
- Pathways and stability of embryonic stem cells
- Genome stability, plasticity and reprogramming
- Differentiation and clinical use of embryonic stem cells
- Farm animal transgenesis and cloning: biological background, history, techniques.
- Biomedical applications: animal as bioreactors; animal as models of human and mammalian diseases; genetically modified animals and xenotrasplantation.
- Zootechnical application of genome transgenesis and cloning: animal growth modification; milk and body composition modification; disease resistance modification; reproductive performances modification.
- Social and economic implications of genome manipulation: animal welfare; food safety issues related to genetically modified foods; functional foods.
- Stem cell biology. Mesenchymal stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells: biology and clinical applications. Perspectives and limits.
The students will be given articles and the slides used by the teachers.
Before each new lesson, the teacher will first summarise then check whether the previous topics have been well understood through an interactive discussion with the students.
Assessment methods and criteria
At the end of the course, the students must be capable of discussing critically and with the appropriate language on the molecular bases of mammalian reproduction, preimplantation development and on the biology of the embryonic stem cells. Also, they will have understood how the manipulation of the genome and the use of stem cells may impact on both fields of medicine and animal production. The students will have to be able to discuss the advantages, but also the limits of the technologies, including the ethycal and the animal well-being issues. Furthermore, the students must be capable of making links between these knowledges and those complementary of the veterinarian.