2017 Participants
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NAME: Dana Sharma

 Opioids and Neuron Development

 Several studies have shown that opioids can regulate the development of neurons. In Huntington, WV, there is a significant level of opioid related exposure in utero due to the heroin epidemic in the city. Research studies to date have focused on how strong opioid agonists (morphine and methadone) regulate neuronal development. It has been shown that morphine decreases neuronal cell differentiation and opioid receptor expression in mouse embryonic cells. At Marshall, there is a Medication Assisted Treatment during pregnancy program which uses the partial Mu-agonist, kappa-antagonist buprenorphine. This is given to opioid-addicted pregnant mothers in order to give them a hospital regulated opioid to prevent them from continuing usage of unregulated opioids. To date, only limited information is available on how this drug alters brain development in utero. Additional research is necessary in order to understand the effects of this opioid on neuronal development. In this study, we aim to compare the effects of buprenorphine and the full Mu-agonist DAMGO on the development of neurons in vitro. This will be done using the cell culture of P19 ATCC mouse embryonic cells, treating them with the two opioids, and comparing the levels of differentiation in the cells into astrocytes or neurons. Prior to treatment, we will culture the P19 ATCC mouse embryonic cells and record their natural levels of differentiation as our control. The working hypothesis for this study is that buprenorphine will decrease neuronal differentiation, but not at the same levels as the full agonist DAMGO. 

To view their website click here: https://sites.google.com/site/sharmasure2017/