• Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction
      "Acad. Kiril Bratanov"

      • Establishment of Center for research on problems of the reproductive health

        Coordinator

        Assoc. professor M.Mollova, PhD, Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction “acad K. Bratanov” Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia

        Members of consortium

        1. Assoc. professor E.Konova, MD, PhD, Center for Reproductive Health, Medical University Pleven

        2. Professor S.Kyurkchiev, MD, DSc., Institute of Reproductive Health, Sofia,

         

        During 2008 the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBIR-BAS) in collaboration with the Center for Reproductive Health, Medical University Pleven and Institute of Reproductive Health, Sofia win a project submitted in the Competition Development of the scientific infrastructure-2008announced by the Ministry of Education and Science. The project is entitled “Establishment of Center for research on problems of the reproductive health”. Project coordinator is associate-professor M.Mollova, MS, PhD, Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction “Acad. K. Bratanov”, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IBIR); Members of consortium: Associate-professor E.Konova, MD, PhD, Center for Reproductive Health, Medical University Pleven and Professor S.Kyurkchiev, MD, DSc., Institute of Reproductive Health, Sofia.

        The major aim is to create a research center equipped with modern sophisticated apparatuses and machines where to conduct high technology research on the problems of reproduction with a significant impact on national and European level.

        The rationale for the establishment of such research center is based on the increasing percentages of infertile couples, recurrent abortions and the general increase of numbers of patients with reproductive problems. Well established tendency is young women to postpone their decision to have a baby for later years of their lives and then come the problems with infertility. All these problems put forward the need for an advanced research reproductive center which is to support the efforts of all clinics and centers for advanced reproductive technologies (ART) in Bulgaria.

        Problems of the reproductive health are considered of great importance for the demographic crisis in Bulgaria and in Europe as a whole. Statistical data clearly outline the tendency of decreased birth rate and an increase of the cases with infertility. It is presumed that infertility rate will progress steeply in the next decade and the ratios of infertile to fertile couples to change from 1:7 to reach 1:3. Currently the infertility rate is estimated to be 15% of the couples and the causes of infertility are both in females and males. Although it is still considered that the female factor is the major reason for infertility it has been demonstrated that at least in 30% of the infertile couples the male factor if the cause. At least one half of the male infertility is due to abnormal spermatogenesis leading to production of spermatozoa with pathological forms.

        Disturbances of the normal reproduction are still other causes of the decreasing of the birth rate and the most common event is the spontaneous recurrent abortion which is the end point of the pregnancy failure or the repeated implantation failure after transfer of viable embryos in ART. This process is known to be due to disturbed balance of hormones, cytokines, growth factors, immune factors and others still unknown factors and mechanisms.

        These data proves that systemic and detailed studies are needed in the field of the reproductive biology which can be carried out with the joint efforts of a multidisciplinary research team. That is the reason to include in the project team specialists from different fields of biological sciences such as biologists, medical doctors, veterinary doctors, zooengineers, chemists from the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), Medical University Pleven and non-governmental non-profit scientific organization (Institute of Reproductive Health).

        The organized Consortium enlists well known specialists both in our country and abroad in the field of reproductive biology and immunology as well as young researchers and PhD students who are well qualified in high-technology and innovative methods and techniques such as isolation and characterization of human adult stem cells, proteome analysis, structural and functional analysis using confocal microscopy. All these equipment, methods and techniques will be applied to do research on problems of the reproductive health in humans.

        The Reproduction Research Center (RRS) is situated at the territory of the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction, which is the founder of the scientific problem “biology and immunology of reproduction” in Bulgaria and the founder of the scientific branch “reproductive immunology” in the world science. The RRC has a core laboratory equipped with flow cytometer, real-time PCR machine, sperm analyzer (Cassa system) HPLC system, 2-D electrophoresis for proteomics with scan reader, sophisticated microscope and inverted microscope, CO2 incubators and safety cabinets, confocal microscope.

        Core laboratories of the RRC are open for collaboration between different research units in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Medical Universities, Sofia University with the aim to contribute to building up an efficient research potential in the Bulgarian research community.

        The RRC will conduct research according to the program which has been approved by the Ministry of Education and Science and is directed in the following directions defined as specific research tasks. Each research task is to be worked out by a research unit headed by a senior researcher and consisting of young PhD students and post-doc researchers.

        TASK 1. Isolation and characterization of proteins involved in the reproductive process (M.Stamenova). The aim of this set of experiments is i). to obtain maximally purified proteins from various organs, tissues, cells and biological fluids involved in the process of reproduction; ii). to evaluate the changes of their characteristics in pathological conditions; iii) to explore the possibilities to apply the newly gained knowledge for development of new means for diagnosis and prognosis of reproductive pathologies.

         TASK 2. Studies on the stem cells in human reproductive system (S.Kyurkchiev)

        Studies are currently carried out on the presence and characterization of human stem cells in the male and female reproductive system. Previous studies in our laboratory have demonstrated the presence of mesenchymal stem cells in human endometrium and early decidua, which are characterized by their capacity to proliferate, to differentiate in osteogenic, adipogenic endothelial and decidual cells. These studies are spread to include other parts of the male and female reproductive system such testis, ovary, prostate.

        TASK .3 Objective quantitative and qualitative analysis of human spermatozoa from patients with reproductive problems (M.Mollova).

        Objective analysis is performed of the conventional and functional parameters of spermatozoa, as well as characterization of their DNA integrity from normozoospermic or oligo-astheno-teratozoospermic infertile men. The results will be used in the clinical practice for prognosis of the fertility of the patient or the donor and to help the selection of the optimal way of treatment and prognosis of the outcome after treatment with in vitro fertilization in the clinical practice.

        TASK 4. Ovarian infertility (M.Ivanova)

        Data will be obtained about the role of autoimmune mechanisms in the various forms of ovarian failure and immune-mediated ovarian infertility.

        It is expected that data will be obtained about the role of antibodies against different steroid-producing cells for the infertility and the success rate with the different approaches in the assisted reproduction.

        TASK 5. Flow cytometry analysis of the platelet activation status and platelet-leukocyte aggregates in women with reproductive failures (E.Konova).

         By flow cytometry of the activation status of platelets and the levels of platelet-leukocyte aggregates (PLA) in women with reproductive failures and pregnancy complications are assessed. Constellation is evaluated of the platelet activation status and PLA with the presence of congenital and/or acquired factors for thrombophilia in women with reproductive failures. Flow cytometry is used to monitor the anticoagulant and anti-aggregate therapy in women with infertility on the basis of the platelet activation status and PLA presence.

        All newly purchased machines will be used for the following purposes:

        • Research investigations as included in the basic activities, described above;
        • Experiments carried out by researchers from all unit of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences which need to use the equipment supplied by the project; 
        • Joint studies with specialists from the clinical practice and particularly with the centers for assisted reproduction;
        • Basis for development of efficient international collaboration with potential to prepare projects for the European structure programs;
        • Education and training of students, master of sciences, PhD students, post-docs and young researchers.
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