Reproductive pharmacology – What is it all about?

Alike many other at the University of Szeged, Dr. Róbert Gáspár participates in a research group and kindly granted the SUMAA team an interview.

Dear Dr. Gáspár, you participated in a research group at the Department of Pharmacodynamics and Biopharmacy. What did you investigate?

My main research interest is the so-called „reproductive pharmacology”, which focuses on mechanisms and the potential drug targets of different diseases related to fertility and pregnancy. One of the team’s main goals is to understand all the factors, which lead to uterine contraction during pregnancy and to delivery of the babies.

robert_What inspired you to start this research?

Premature birth is one of the greatest challenges in obstetrics. The global prevalence of prematurity is around 10%, the Hungarian statistics show an 8% frequency every year. Prematurity is the leading cause of infant death and one of the main reasons for high costs in paediatric intensive care units. Additionally, the population of Hungary is descending, thus all effort should be done to save the lives of newborns. The other clinical problem is infertility; we try to find treatments, mechanisms that can contribute to the reduction of this unfavourable condition.

What kinds of experiments are used in this research?

Our department is equipped for both in vitro and in vivo experiments. We are able to arrange and detect the receptor-ligand bindings, and we can identify the mRNAs of different target proteins or even reveal the expression of these target proteins in the biological samples by real-time PCR and Western blot techniques. The contractility of the uterine smooth muscle is studied in isolated organ bath system. The electromyography and mechanical sensors offer the possibility to detect the smooth muscle contraction in intact even conscious animals. Thus, we have the possibility to study our hypotheses from the molecular level to the complex organism.

Which sources are used to create the theoretical base of this research?

The theoretical background of our research comes from scientific literature, clinical experiences and our own ideas. We try to follow published papers in the field of reproductive pharmacology and in general pharmacology, which help us to find new targets, new mechanism or new technologies to reach our goals.

What is your expectation in this research with regard to general development in science of pharmacology?

Mostly, we use already applied methods for research. However, our electromyographic studies may open a new chapter in the detection of smooth muscle activity in awake animals and even humans. This can contribute e.g. to the early detection of premature labour or gastrointestinal disorders, and may provide a new method for pharmacological investigation of compounds influencing the activity of smooth muscles.

What is the conclusion or question you discovered during and at the end of this research?

Unfortunately, we cannot make a final conclusion in the question of premature labour yet. It is obvious that the problem is multiform and possibly, there is not a specific reason, which initiates the whole process. So far, we can conclude that drug combinations may elicit stronger action than the single compounds, and specific proteins of central nervous system (beyond oxytocin) may have a crucial role in the control of myometrial contractions and labour.

Thank you for explaining your research to us.