Over the past month I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to assist a professor and researcher on the forefront of understanding Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease that affects one’s mental stability. There are no known cures to treat the disease, and therefore such research is absolutely necessary. Understanding Alzheimer’s more deeply on a molecular level provides useful information for projecting treatments that could be successful. The data collecting with my classmate Catherine and our teacher Vanaja, aids in the gathering of this minute data in hopes of providing additional statistical information for understanding the disease.
To conduct our research we have been performing a process called immunocytochemistry, which involves the staining of tissues with antibodies to locate specific proteins. This process has comprised of meticulously cleaning the brain tissue of preservatives, dyeing the tissue with antibodies, and mounting the tissue onto glass slides to be viewed under microscope. Due to the dye, tissues from Alzheimer’s possessing brains contain brown spots, while the normal tissue, our control group, is clear.
The procedure of creating the slides with the brain tissue and gathering the data has been incredibly enriching. Although the work is tedious, I enjoy feeling the positive emotion that is associated with working to cure a disease that affects around 44 million people worldwide. Besides the general side effect of feeling good for doing community service, there are more personal results as well. Alzheimer’s has had a large impact on my family, so partaking in this research has been a powerful and emotional experience. The work has strengthened my determination to find ways to combat the disease and has exposed me to new outlets for giving back to the community.
(Microscopic view of stained proteins in Alzheimer’s containing brain tissue)