My name is Dade Ogunmuyiwa and I am a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. I am double majoring in HSOC and computer and information sciences. This summer I had the opportunity to work in the Axelsen lab as a research fellow.
What was my summer research project?
When Amyloid Beta proteins aggregate in the body, amyloid plaques are formed. These plaques are insoluble and form between nerve cells, thus disrupting the cell communication. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by amyloid plaques. Omega fatty acids are broken down into HNE during the lipid peroxidation process.
The first goal of my research this summer was to quantify amyloid beta-40 fibrilization in Thioflavin-T. Thioflavin-T is a stain that allows us to look at the fluorescent properties of AB-40. When AB-40 is added to Thioflavin-T, the intensity of fluorescence increases greatly; an increase in AB-40 concentration will increase the intensity of fluorescence up until a certain maximum. Knowing this, we created a collection of standard fluorescence curves at different concentrations of AB-40. These standards are important because they allow us to see if the other samples of AB-40 have fibrilized fully.
The second goal of my research this summer was to investigate whether or not the presence of HNE changed the speed of fibrilization. To do this we’re adding HNE to different concentrations of AB-40 while they’re incubating, and comparing it to the standards we collected previously.
What were the implications of this research?
We still do not know what the purpose of amyloid plaques is, but this research can help us figure out ways to slow down amyloid plaque formation. Although the second portion of the experiment has not been executed yet, I hypothesize that the introduction of HNE will speed up the rate of fibril formation. If this is proven to be true, then the next question will be what is the purpose of HNE in the body, and how do we limit the production of HNE?
What new skills did I gain during this research?
Research this summer has taught me to think in a more solution oriented manner. Many of the problems my partner and I ran into during this process were problems that couldn’t be answered by a simple google search. We often had to be very creative to find solutions to these problems. I also learned how to synthesize research papers quickly, and how to justify methods through literature. Much of the work I did this summer required the operation of a spectrometer or a fluorescence spectrophotometer, and I have become acquainted with the softwares that these machines use. Finally, I learned a lot about lab techniques such as pipetting, plasma cleaning, creating solutions, etc.