Sunday, April 6, 2014

URSP Student Robert Ulrey Researches Cranberry Proanthocyanidins

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that has been a source of infection in hospitals for a long time. The bacterium uses a biofilm, a polysaccharide coating that enables the bacterium to resist antibiotics, dessication, and pH, as one of its modes of action in pathogenicity. Natural therapeutics have always been a first sought after treatment for diseases. With many stipulations by the general public against antibiotics and synthetic drugs, synthesis of the beneficial compounds in natural foods such as fruits and vegetables has become a cornerstone of modern medicine. My interest was first sparked by this premise; and with some research on published papers in this area and feedback from my principal investigator, the idea of inhibiting biofilm of P. aeruginosa with extracts from cranberries termed proanthocyanidins came to life.

In the future, I wish to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Immunology; and this project relates to my overall goal because the research methods overlap with what a researcher will be performing in the field of immunology such as polymerase chain reactions for DNA synthesis and growing eukaryotic cell lines. The difference is that this project observes the effect of treatment on the bacterium while immunology focuses on the effect of the treatment on host cells.

On a weekly basis, I perform many different types of experiments based on what is needed for the paper that I am writing for publication. The process usually includes researching how to perform certain experiments by looking through publications and creating a mode of action to create the most successful outcome for the experiment. After creating a method, I gather all the materials and disinfect everything to ensure a sterile environment without contamination from outside bacteria. After the experiment has been performed, the data is interpreted through programs such as GraphPad and Excel. This week, through experimentation, I found that the cranberry proanthocyanidins have the ability to block motility of P. aeruginosa and this is a possible mechanism as to why the bacteria cannot communicate with each other and form a biofilm.