Dr. Condon's main research focus is the study of maternal-fetal signaling during pregnancy to understand the molecular pathways that are involved in the initiation of labor. We hope that by establishing the mechanisms that control normal term labor, we may determine the events that lead to the onset of pre-term labor.
We previously determined that the fetus plays a critical role in the timing of the onset of labor. We found when the fetal lung is sufficiently developed to transition from the aqueous environment of the amniotic fluid to the aerobic environment of the outside world it produces a protein called surfactant protein-A which binds to, activates and causes fetal inflammatory cells to migrate into the mother's uterus, causing the uterus to contract (1). We hope to identify the receptors that facilitate the binding of this fetal protein and identify the migratory signaling pathways of the fetal inflammatory cells. Other recent work of ours has demonstrated that uterine progesterone receptor function (PR) may be hindered locally in the uterus at term by changes in uterine co-activator proteins (2), activation of the inflammatory pathways (1) that initiate changes in uterine PR expression levels (3) and changes in prostaglandin synthesis. We hope to identify using Cre-Lox technology the individual roles of the fetus and the mother in the initiation of labor. Our ultimate goal is to attain the technology and information allowing us to control the pre-term labor situation, in the hope of decreasing the incidence of pre-term delivery.