Last post pt. 2 on Lofexidine

Apparently, the 5 posts on the blog were not supposed to include the abstract. But I’m glad the people at the Charles Center were able to clarify, and luckily, there is a bit more to say about the future of the Lofexidine project.

Most of the summer was used to figure out what did not work. Essentially, that entailed changing the experimental setup of the rig, by decreasing the length of the tubes to increase flow rates of ASCF and oxygen, changing the protocol for making the micropipette electrodes that are so important to the success of the project. Often we would make electrodes with tips that were too wide, and this would let the 3M NaCl solution inside leak onto the tissue in the rig. Since CNS neurons are some of the most physiologically sensitive cells of mammalian organisms, this would kill many cells at a time, and data collection would not be possible for that day. But they have been fixed this summer, and we will no longer run into that problem anymore. Electrodes are made with a machine that melts the glass pipettes at a very specific temperature at a very specific rate to create the ultrathin electrodes we need. By messing around with the settings on the machine, I’ve finally found a program that makes the tips thin enough to not allow for leakage, but detects actions potentials even better than the previous ones.

Besides those improvements to the lab, I will have more people to help me on the project during the school year, so the rig is never unattended throughout the experiment. Lab starts again on Tuesday and hopefully we begin seeing warm-sensitive cells next week. With 10 more warm-sensitive cells, there would be enough conclusive evidence to say that warm-sensitive cells increase their firing rates with exposure to Lofexidine. Hopefully, the project will be completed by late September and a paper will be written by the end of the semester.