Oocyte Quality Evaluation for Reproduction Prediction

Web Published:

Princeton Docket # 15-3076-1

Researchers in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics at Princeton University have discovered biomarkers that are indicative of oocyte quality.  This invention is a new diagnostic tool for female reproductive status that will use biomarkers of oocyte quality to predict a woman’s biological oocyte age and likelihood of conception. 


Reproductive decline, characterized by infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects, is attributed to declining oocyte quality with age. Women would like to be able to make informed reproductive decisions, however, currently there is no diagnostic test to evaluate oocytes quality. By identifying biomarkers of oocyte quality, a diagnostic tool can be developed to report oocyte quality, and thus likelihood of reproductive success, to the patient.


The inventors found that a set of shared genes change with age in both C. elegans and mammalian oocytes. These genes may function as biomarkers of mammalian oocyte quality. In addition to gene expression patterns in oocytes, biomarkers in other tissues (blood, urine, endometrial cells, and cervical cells) may also inform oocyte quality, and they can be assessed in a less-invasive manner than oocytes.  These diagnostic tests would be used in in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics for direct oocyte testing, obstetrics/gynecology clinics for endometrial and cervical tissue samples, and general clinics or at-home use for blood and urine tests.  The diagnostic assessment would not destroy the oocyte during the collection process, offering an advantage over existing cytology or chromosomal tests.  Furthermore, a larger prediction window regarding oocyte function would be gained compared to the prevailing endocrine analyses (such as anti-Mullerian hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone) that predict ovarian reserve status.  Women would be able to use this data to make informed reproductive decisions.  IVF clinics and egg-freezing companies would also benefit from a direct success measure of their procedures.



•       Diagnostics of oocyte quality

•       Direct predictions of pregnancy outcome and conception probability

•       Use in IVF and ob/gyn clinics and egg-freezing companies



•       Non-invasive procedure for sample collection

•       Larger prediction window (years) for likelihood of oocyte function than endocrine tests of ovarian reserve

•       Does not destroy oocyte

•       Simple test



Oocyte quality, ovarian reserve, assisted reproductive technology, infertility, biomarker, biological diagnostic, reproductive span, conception, in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo transfer, egg cryo-preservation, pregnancy, gene expression, aging, RT-PCR, ELISA



Luo, S., Kleemann, G.A., Ashraf, J.M., Shaw, W.M., and Murphy, C.T.  TGF-b and Insulin Signaling Temporally and Spatially Regulate Reproductive Aging via Germline Quality Maintenance.  Cell.  2010, 143(2): 299-312.


The Faculty Inventor


Coleen T. Murphy, Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and Director for the Glenn Center for Aging Research at Princeton University


The Murphy lab studies the process of aging, including the decline of cognitive and reproductive capacities with age, which remain some of the fundamental mysteries in biology.  Recent genetic breakthroughs suggest that aging is a regulated process, rather than the result of cumulative cellular damage.  The understanding of aging at the molecular level will progress from identifying these global regulators, to defining the genes that they control.  Using C. elegans as a model system, behavioral, genomic, genetic, biochemical, robotic, and computational approaches are undertaken in the Murphy lab to understand the molecular mechanisms of aging.


Prof. Murphy received her B.S. in Biophysical and Biochemical Sciences from the University of Houston and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University.  Prof. Murphy has received many scholarly awards, including from the Sloan Foundation, March of Dimes, Pew Foundation, Keck Fund, McKnight Foundation, NIH Pioneer Award, and the Glenn Foundation.


Intellectual Property and Licensing Status

Patent applications are pending. Princeton is seeking industrial collaborators for further development and commercialization of this technology.



Laurie Tzodikov

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-7256• tzodikov@princeton.edu

Xin (Shane) Peng

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-5579• xinp@princeton.edu


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Prabhpreet Gill
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Coleen Murphy
female health