These past few months volunteering in the research lab at MUSC have been crazy! I have learned so much and experienced so many new things! Although, before I was a volunteer, but I was offered a PAID position which I am so excited about!
I get a lot of questions about the research I’m doing and why it’s so important. So here is a broad outline of what we’re doing!
What we use!
We use rodents in our experiments which are very well taken care of, a vet checks on them daily and they even get their nails trimmed! The average rat we work with is pretty skinny coming in but they range from about 300g to about 450g while we have them so they are getting all of their necessary nutrients! We are also all gowned up so it’s completely safe on our end as well!
What we do!
We place the rats into a controlled environment for two hours a day for self-administration. They can press a lever which administers the drug or the lever that does not. It obviously has already been discovered that Nicotine is a highly addictive drug so what we do is inject them with Drug A that is found in many nicotine patches. This drug has an agonist which mimics nicotine so when it binds to receptors in the brain it makes the rodents more likely to not crave the drug! While we wait each day for the rats to run through their two hours of SA, I get some scheduling and homework done in the meantime!
What we study!
We study the lever presses after Drug A has been injected and see how the behavior has changed. Ultimately the goal is to mix Drug A with Drug B. Drug B has been proven to help in relapse prevention. The hypothesis is that the mixture of the two drugs will promote abstinence and prevent relapse. This is the goal! We have not yet used Drug B in our process. Research takes a really long time and you cannot overlook anything, this is what makes it so interesting!
I am absolutely in love with this research because so many people shorten their lives daily by smoking, and even when they choose to stop most find their way back to it. Studying a drug that could one day help prevent people from falling back into addiction is just so inspiring!
This is a super shortened summary of what we actually do, if you’re interested in hearing more feel free to contact me!
Thanks for reading! <3 Happy Friday!