Our research and publications
What we do
Gross Genomic Changes in Human Gametes and Embryos
Darren performed the world’s first cytogenetic preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) case, and GriffinLab operates a number of research activities with IVF units, such as the London Women’s Clinic and CARE fertility, as well as diagnostics companies including Cooper and Igenomix. GriffinLab played a large role in developing “Karyomapping” – a universal test for the diagnosis of genetic disease in human preimplantation embryos, which has been used to treat >15,000 patients. The lab also addresses questions arising about the incidence and origin of chromosome abnormalities, with many PhD candidates (often supervised externally) focusing on improving the success of fertility treatments.
Non-Human IVF and Preimplantation Genetic Testing
The lab has established a pig and cattle IVF facility, specifically designed to generate genotyped IVF embryos. The reasons for establishing this facility are twofold: firstly, as a means of improving food production, but secondly as a model to understand human IVF. Through the use of research into optimisation of current protocols for the production of cattle and pig embryos, there is the potential to multiply the offspring of genetically superior animals, that may be more resistant to disease, thus improving the production and selection of more efficient livestock.
Chromosome Screening in Domestic Animals
The lab has established “CytoScreen Solutions” – a cytogenomic screening service for infertility in agricultural species, working in close collaboration with Oxford Gene Technology (Cytocell) in order to develop the bespoke devices that allow for the identification of translocations in pigs and cattle. Future projects include the investigation of pig and cattle sperm DNA damage through screening, karyomapping in pigs and cattle, and the development of training courses in animal and human IVF.
Gene Expression and Poultry
Insights into agricultural technological advances are not limited to just pigs and cattle. Looking at relationships between the genes of immunity, metabolism and the productive traits in laying hens, their nutrition and microbiome of their gastrointestinal tract are of vital importance for progress in the poultry industry sector. Research in this field will help improve poultry production, for improved food security, as well as reducing the risks of human diseases caused by foodborne toxicoinfections – an area of growing importance with the rise of these infections. We are also looking into mathematical modelling of egg shape.
Genome Reconstruction, Evolution & Comparative Cytogenomics of Terrestrial Vertebrates
GriffinLab research is currently focused on generating chromosome-level assemblies in a range of avian, mammalian and reptilian species, which helps to elucidate the role of chromosome evolution. This has even led to the determination of the overall dinosaur karyotype, which provides some insight into why chromosomes of dinosaurs survived extinction events, and emerged as birds. The lab developed a method of taking sub-chromosomal sized scaffold-based assemblies and “upgrading” them to chromosome-level at a fraction of the typical cost, which uses clones that will hybridise to the chromosomes of multiple species, and multiplex adaptations of FISH.