Update into my research for the summer of 2014

Hello All!

Time for an update into my research for this summer. As a brief reminder, I am conducting research on Bisphenol A (BPA) to ultimately determine whether it has an effect within our bodies. BPA is known as an endocrine disrupter, and one of the reasons that it is receiving such world-wide attention is because it is a monomer of polycarbonate plastics. Meaning it is part of what is used to make plastics, such as plastic water bottles; because of this, it can easily leach from the plastics that we use to contain our food and drinks and enter into our food and drinks. Leaching of BPA into the plastics that we use can be caused by several factors, such as exposure to heat or radiation. As a result, human exposure to BPA is thought to be ubiquitous. To test BPA’s effects within our bodies, I am exposing cells to varying concentrations of BPA to determine which concentration of BPA begins to disrupt the cells ability to take in hormones. After experimentation with concentrations that are above what have been already used in the scientific literature, I have found that BPA does seem to disrupt cells ability to take in hormones. However, I am not yet sure as to whether it may be due to nonspecific cell integrity, or specifically BPA. I am currently conducting experiments with different concentrations of BPA to test this uncertainty in specificity.

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Busy in Boston

Last week I began my summer research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.  After clearing orientation, lab safety, and animal safety I was finally able to get started in the lab.  My first week primarily consisted of reorienting myself with the lab and practicing standard procedures and protocols that I will be carrying out for the rest of the summer.  Throughout the summer I will be testing varying cancer cell lines to determine how close they are to cell death and how likely they are to respond to chemotherapy.  Additionally, I will be treating these cell lines grown in vitro with a drug produced in the lab designed to push these cancer cells closer to cell death in order for chemotherapy to have a more significant response on the cell lines that it might not otherwise destroy.  We are currently working with a pharmaceutical company to get this drug out to clinical trial patients in the next 12-18 months, but before we do so, we also will be doing running these tests on tumors being grown in mice.

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Time to Get Cleaning

It’s been another exciting two weeks working in the lab. Among some great bonding activities such as cheering for the US soccer team in the world cup and experimenting with liquid nitrogen ice cream flavors, work has finally begun on making new comparisons of the solvent cleaning methods. As a recap, we are comparing the effects of solvent treatment using a free solvent versus gel-solvent form on 10 year old paint samples. We had previously treated samples with methoxypropanol, and we are continuing to treat those samples on a weekly basis. This past week we began treating new samples with isopropanol. A 2% isopropanol gel was made and applied to one sample using a tissue method while another sample was swabbed with plain isopropanol. The results of the first test runs showed that the gel-solvent only penetrated to a depth of roughly 150 um, which is less than even the methoxypropanol gel. The plain isopropanol sample produced interesting results with two peaks of signal reaching further into the paint. At this time, we have not been able to explain the appearance of the two peaks, but the reason for them may become more clear as the treatment is repeated. The plan moving forward is to continue repeating the treatments on both samples on a weekly basis. Readings of the samples will be made while they are dry and wet which allows us to see the signal that results from the solvent alone once the difference of the data is taken; essentially removing any signal pertaining to the paint. Though at first glance it appears that the gel-solvent is indeed showing less signal at a more shallow depth, the repeated trials will tell us if this trend holds.

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