Sills Laboratory

About the lab

Regenerative Biology Group operates under Experimental Science Systems as its integrated research component, based in Southern California. Dr. Sills and associates manage the condensed platelet-derived cytokine project targeting low reserve & menopausal ovarian tissue. As an extension of NIH registered clinical trial NCT03178695, the current portfolio reports on de novo egg recovery for IVF, embryo ploidy correction, and menopause reversal.

Featured research (36)

Diminished ovarian reserve can be regarded as a sentinel indicator to foreshadow severe follicular loss and, ultimately, systemic aging. The negative slope of human ovulatory fidelity begins with a robust follicular endowment which gradually declines over time. In contrast, the youthful ovarian phenotype requires the coordinated work of endothelial, granulosa, immune, perivascular, stromal and possibly germline stem cells. Such a diverse tissue matrix can, in general, be influenced by platelet (PLT)-derived factors but this has not yet been specifically confirmed in the ovary after platelet-rich plasma (PRP). How could a comparable response be validated? Here a prospective, experimental study is proposed whereby eligible patients already undergoing scheduled laparoscopy provide ovarian tissue via biopsy submitted for co-culture with autologous Ca+2 activated PRP. Recognizing the interlocking, central roles of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), incubated samples would be assessed for these in vitro before vs. after PRP exposure, in addition to stereomicroscopy. A mathematical model is available to track NF-κB oscillations and estimate gene expression, cell development, growth, apoptosis, and key immune and inflammatory actions. Since NF-κB and TNF-α are discharged in activated PLT releasate (or react to its cargo proteins) this audit permits extraction of response markers observed post-stimulus, thus linking discrete signals to transcriptional output, cellular fitness, and ovarian cytoarchitecture. From this, a hypothesis could emerge where intraovarian PRP is found to make no direct impact on follicles, although modified ovarian field function and curtailed local entropy incidentally favor optimized oocyte competence as a secondary effect.
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of duodenal origin are an unusual subset among all NETs, comprising only about 3% of this neoplasm class. In general, NETs are characterized by overexpression of somatostatin receptors and carry an excellent prognosis with early diagnosis and intervention. Chromogranin A (CgA), a protein originating in secretory vesicles of neurons and endocrine cells, has gained wide usage in NET diagnosis and surveillance. Lanreotide is a synthetic octapeptide somatostatin analog with potent anti-proliferative action which has been approved by the FDA (U.S.) and EMA (E.U.) for NET treatment. It is known for its inhibitory effects on growth hormone, serotonin, CgA, and other markers. Here we describe a 56yr-old female with functional NET of duodenal origin, where serum CgA was successfully reduced from 3636 to <100 ng/mL after multidose lanreotide within five months. Of note, no metastatic spread was identified on positron emission tomography/computed tomography with 64Cu-labeled somatostatin analog tracer. Surgical resection of distal antrum, pylorus, and proximal duodenum was completed without complication. Histology revealed well-differentiated tumor cells with characteristic neuroendocrine features and clear surgical margins; low proliferation index (2%) was noted on Ki-67 staining. While select laboratory and imaging modalities are available for diagnosis and monitoring of duodenal NET, this is the first reported therapeutic use of lanreotide in this NET setting. The observed serum chromogranin A attenuation, even before surgery, supports its effectiveness in management of primary nonmetastatic duodenal NET.
No major breakthroughs have entered mainstream clinical fertility practice since egg donation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection decades ago, and oocyte deficits secondary to advanced age continue as the main manifestation of diminished ovarian reserve. In the meantime, several unproven IVF 'accessories' have emerged including so-called ovarian rejuvenation which entails placing fresh autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) directly into ovarian tissue. Among cellular responses attributed to this intervention are reduced oxidative stress, slowed apoptosis, and improved metabolism. Besides impacting the existing follicle pool, platelet growth factors might also facilitate de novo oocyte recruitment by specified gene upregulation targeting uncommitted ovarian stem cells. Because disordered activity at mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) has been shown to exacerbate or accelerate ovarian aging, PRP-discharged plasma cytokines combined with mTOR suppression by pulsed/cyclic rapamycin represents a novel fusion technique to enhance ovarian function. While beneficial effects have already been observed experimentally in oocytes and embryos with mTOR inhibition alone, this proposal is the first to discuss intraovarian platelet cytokines followed by low-dose, phased rapamycin. For refractory cases, this investigational, tailored approach could amplify or sustain ovarian capacity sufficient to permit retrieval of competent oocytes via distinct but complementary pathways-thus reducing dependency on oocyte donation.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an 'orthobiologic' with recognized roles in plastic surgery, musculoskeletal disorders, dentistry, dermatology, and more recently, 'ovarian rejuvenation'. Intraovarian PRP involves a complex secretome discharged after platelet activation, comprising multiple cytokine mediators delivered surgically to older or inactive ovarian tissue. Loss of oocyte meiotic fidelity and impaired fertilization accompanying advanced maternal age are already managed by IVF, but only with eggs provided by younger donors. However, if the observed effect of rectifying embryo ploidy error can be proven beyond case reports and small series, activated PRP (or its condensed plasma cytokines) would deliver a welcome therapeutic disruption that is difficult to overstate. Because shortcomings in ovarian function are presently addressed mainly by pharmacological approaches (i.e., via recombinant gonadotropins, GnRH analogs, or luteal support), autologous PRP would represent an unusual departure from these interventions. Given the diversity of platelet cargo proteins, the target response of intraovarian PRP is probably not confined to oocytes or follicles. For example, PRP manipulates signal networks driving improved perfusion, HOX regulation, N-glycan post-translational modification, adjustment of voltage-gated ion channels, telomere stabilization, optimization of SIRT3, and ribosome and mitochondria recovery in older oocytes. While multichannel signals operating on various pathways are not unique to reproductive biology, in intraovarian PRP this feature has received little study and may help explain why its standardization has been difficult. Against this background, our report examines the research themes considered most likely to shape clinical practice.
Choroid plexus insufficiency or glymphatic stasis are often classified as prequels to harmful accretion of toxic proteins in neurodegenerative disease. Cognitive decline and memory loss subsequently become cardinal features of Alzheimer's disease (AD), typically progressing with amyloid-ß and tau protein accumulation. For Parkinson's disease (PD), α-synuclein deposits and dopamine depletion are linked to impaired movement, resting tremor, and rigidity. Importantly, both diagnoses are accompanied by hyperinflammation and intrathecal cytokine changes. Thus far, numerous clinical trials for investigational drugs have produced nothing effective for AD or PD, yet the anti-inflammatory and regenerative potential of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) remains largely unexamined in this context. This report explores a proposed Phase I study on intrathecal condensed plasma growth factors processed from autologous thrombin-activated PRP as monotherapy for AD or PD. The concept gains support from related work where cytokines of platelet origin successfully lowered inflammation, corrected background fibrosis, deactivated abnormal cells, and recovered local tissue function-all desirable outcomes in AD and PD. PRP-mediated effects on membrane potentials, electrolyte balance, and water clearance are less well characterized, but experimental evidence suggests these pathways could likewise influence glymphatic drainage to ameliorate proteinopathies. As a well-tolerated 'orthobiologic' with no hypersensitivity risk, intrathecal PRP and its derivatives bring advantages distinct from synthetic pharmaceuticals. If age-associated neuroinflammation in AD and PD is an upstream event contributing to neural disruption, then dampening local oxidative stress by a patient's own platelet cytokines (as already proven in other tissues) could offer therapeutic relevance to these neurodegenerative conditions as well.

Lab head

E. Scott Sills
About E. Scott Sills
  • BA Vanderbilt, PhD Westminster (Lond), MD Tennessee. Dr. Sills completed his reproductive endocrinology fellowship at Cornell Univ after obstetrics-gynecology residency at NYU Downtown Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Members (6)

Denis Vaughan
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Christopher A Jones
  • University of Vermont Health Network
David Walsh
  • Foundation for Reproductive Science & Technology
Graham Coull
  • Sims International Fertility Clinic
Lyuda Shkrobot
  • Sims International Fertility Clinic