Monday, May 11, 2020

URSP Student Paresha Khan Researches Lead Poisoning in Frog Eggs

How does the glycine receptor contribute to the cognitive-behavioral effects that humans experience due to lead poisoning? I am interested to study this research topic because lead poisoning has been an issue for a long time now. Apart from children acquiring lead poison by accidentally eating dirt, some older homes still have lead paint on their walls which also contribute to accumulating in the soil. This can prevent families from planting fruits and vegetables in their gardens. Although lead poisoning has its cures, the detrimental effects left in someone’s brain after getting the disease remains. People with lead poisoning can develop problems to their cognitive ability which can affect motor function, memory, vision, and the ability to make decisions. 

Therefore, I am specifically studying glycine receptors because they are responsible for fast inhibitory neurotransmission in the CNS, predominantly in the spinal cord and brainstem as well as the retina. This receptor in the human body plays a role in allowing neurons to fire so that signals can be sent to our brain in order to complete everyday tasks. By using the glycine receptor, I will be injecting frog eggs with several solutions to see how lead poisoning affects the way they function. 

Apart from conducting the actual research, I play a role in actually building the neuroscience lab from scratch. Dr. Herin is the first professor at George Mason to be studying this topic; our team has put together all of the equipment and protocol necessary for this project every week. We have put together two microscopes, the current and voltage meter needed to measure the frog eggs, a TV in order to see the microscopic images in high definition, making solutions needed for the injections, and setting up the test tubes needed for the solutions. Last week, we started injecting the frog eggs for the first time with DI water. By practicing this technique, we plan on injecting the eggs with RNA after spring break. After our group becomes acclimated to injecting the eggs, we will begin the research project with the glycine receptor. 

In the long-run, I think that this project will give us great results that will show us how lead poisoning can affect frog eggs. We can run multiple trials with various solutions to cure the lead poisoning while also observing the negative cognitive effects it leaves behind. Apart from this project, I strongly believe that we are building a useful lab that future students at George Mason University can use.