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Bells and Whistles

Alpa Popat, a student in the Hons Biology-Pharmacology Coop Programme, has been working under the supervision of D.J. Crankshaw. She has been studying the effects of diverse agents on the contractile responses of the human non-pregnant myometrium set up in conventional organ baths.

The strips are obtained from non-pregnant women undergoing hysterectomy for a variety of benign disorders. The strips are tied at each end with silk threads and mounted longitudinally in individual organ baths (10 or 15 mL) containing oxygenated physiological salt solutions at 37oC. Tension generated in response to agonists is measured with force-displacement transducers and the output gathered and analysed by a computer. The tissues are allowed to equilibrate for a 2 hr period before experiments are begun. Drugs are added to the organ baths in a cumulative fashion. Each addition is followed by a 10 min period during which the mean contractile force is determined. The mean force recorded in the 10 min period immediately following agonist addition minus the control force was considered the force developed in relation to that particular concentration of the agonist.

In one set of experiments, she adds the drug sulprostone (known to act on prostanoid receptors) to the bathing solutions and obtains the concentration-response curve shown in the Figure below:

sulprostone-bw.gif (6647 bytes)


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