Varan B. 2023 | BASIS Independent Silicon Valley
- Project Title: Analyzing the action potentials of a Zebra Finch’s cerebral cortex while exposed to 4-Aminopyridine
- Basis Independent Advisor: Dr. Karen Allendoerfer
- Internship Location: University of Chicago
- Onsite Mentor: Arij Daou
"Motor disorders, including Parkinson's Disease (PD), are a prevalent and significant health issue in the United States, affecting approximately 42 million individuals. PD is a progressive neurological
disorder characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, leading to a range of symptoms including tremors, involuntary movement, bradykinesia, and rigidity. At the University of Chicago, I am studying the response of action potentials in the cerebral cortex of a Zebra Finch when treated with the drug 4-aminopyridine, with the aim of creating a model for motor disorders.
4-Aminopyridine acts by blocking specific potassium-voltage-gated channels, leading to a constant influx
of depolarization and resulting in muscle contractions. Given that muscle contractions are a common symptom of PD, it is important for future researchers to work together to develop pharmacotherapies with improved efficacy to address the diverse ways in which PD can manifest. The need for more effective treatments is especially pressing as current drugs such as Levodopa may exhibit negative effects when used over the long term. Through this review, I aim to provide a neuroscience perspective on the dynamic interactions between PD and environmental factors, and to inform the development of potent countermeasures to address this complex and debilitating disorder. It is my hope that this research will contribute to a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying PD and pave the way for the development of more effective treatments for those affected by this condition."