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IMGALTTAG Chatham University :: Majors & Programs :: Natural & Physical Sciences Division :: Biology
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Abstracts for Poster Presentations

The Effects of Tricor Monotherapy Versus Tricor Coadministered with a Research Drug On Hyperlipidemia Patients
Kelly M Beatty, Washington and Jefferson College

Cholesterol plays a central role in many biochemical processes, but is best known for the association of cardiovascular disease with various lipoprotein cholesterol transport patterns and high levels of serum cholesterol which can lead to hyperlipidemia. This double-blind study tested the efficacy of fenofibrate (Tricor) alone versus fenofibrate with a research drug or placebo on patients with hyperlipidemia. The research drug inhibits cholesterol synthesis, mostly targeting LDL reduction, by inhibiting squalene synthase. Tricor inhibits the synthesis of triglycerides in the PPAR? biosynthetic pathway. It is thought that Tricor and the research drug can effectively break down cholesterol in the body utilizing two different biosynthetic pathways. The experimental hypothesis states that patients taking Tricor and the research drug will have lower serum cholesterol, mainly LDL and triglyceride levels, than patients who are administered Tricor alone. Although the study is still underway, preliminary results suggest there will be approximately a 12% difference between the Tricor plus research drug groups versus Tricor plus placebo.


The role of mannose in urinary tract infections
Whitney Craig, Thiel College

It is suggested that Escherichia coli that cause urinary tract infections attach to the mannose receptors of the epithelial cells lining the bladder. This study is to observe the adhesion of E. coli as well as other bacteria that cause urinary tract infections to epithelial cells and to see if extra mannose in the body can prevent or decrease this adhesion. Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Proteus mirabilis were investigated for their capacity to cause adhesion in epithelial cells; human cheek epithelial cells were chosen to be used. Each bacterium was combined with epithelial cells and observed to distinguish if aggregation of the cells occurred. In preliminary analyses, the adherence of epithelial cells was most readily noticed in the presence of E. coli whereas the results were inconclusive with the other bacteria that were used. The addition of D-Mannose generated a reduction of aggregation in the epithelial cells with the E. coli present while there was an insignificant change in adhesion of epithelial cells in the presence of the other bacteria. This study implies that mannose is notable in the adhesion of E. coli and epithelial cells however has inconsequential influence on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Proteus mirabilis when in the presence of epithelial cells.


Land Use Types, Resources, Livelihoods and the Resulting Conversion of Kimana Swamp within the Amboseli-Tsavo Region, Kenya
Jamie L Gibbs, Waynesburg College

Research was done on the land use, resource consumptions and conflicts within Kimana swamp, which is the largerst for the six swamps found in the Amboseli-Tsavo region and is a main support system for the local community as well as area wildlife. This study was conducted so that solutions could be formulated for the problems that plague the Kimana swamp region, thus insuring the survival of the swamp. By using GPS, an accurate map of the swamp was generated, showing the area cultivated in relation to the portion of swamp, which has been left intact. Locations of wildlife sited around and within the swamp have also been mapped by GPS. The farmers and landowners were interviewed and the results were calculated using a chi-square goodness of fit test to determine if particular responses were more significant than other. In general it was found that many resources from the swamp were used, for example, 25% of farmers and 95% of landowners depend on the swamp for building material and 31% of farmers and 58% of landowners depend on the swamp for drinking water. Both farmers (59%) and cultivators (51%) feel that agriculture is the best land use for the swamp. Local officials expressed concern about the decrease and continual degradation of the swamp due to population growth, were as the group ranch members deny the possibility of the swamp drying up. Suggestions have been made, by the key informants we interviewed, for group ranch officials to work together so to preserves the amount of swamp that is remaining as well as controlling the amount of degradation within the cultivated portion.


Viability and Identification of Bacteria in the Homeostatic Soil Organisms Probiotic Formula.
Jessica King, Thiel College

Throughout time, various food products containing bacteria have been ingested for their benefits to digestion. Although some foods containing bacteria, such as yogurt, remain common in the average diet, many drug companies have attempted to directly support intestinal flora through the manufacture of probiotic supplements. Probiotics generally contain an assortment of various beneficial intestinal bacteria. The company Garden of Life produces a product known as Primal Defense™ Homeostatic Soil Organism Probiotic Formula. This probiotic was cultured on four different varieties of media, and two types of colonies with distinctive morphologies were isolated. This finding is unexpected as thirteen bacteria were identified on the product label as present in species or enzyme form. Although the viability and benefits of the bacterial enzymes in Primal Defense will not be studied in the laboratory, the effects of acid on the bacterial cultures present will be determined in order to assess viability of organisms entering the lower digestive tract.


Effects on Balance and Ambulation with the Use of Aquatic Therapy in Pediatric Patients With Cerebral Palsy
Sarah King, Thiel College

Children and adolescents with cerebral palsy experience a number of problems with movement, posture and balance caused by abnormal development or damage to the motor control centers of the brain. Different means of therapy were provided in an attempt to improve the quality of movement in pediatric patients with cerebral palsy. Two such types of therapy included traditional physical therapy as performed on land, and aquatic therapy performed in a therapy pool setting. Both types of therapy each provide their own physical as well as psychological effects on the patient and their rehabilitation. In this study of eight pediatric patients participating in an aquatic therapy program over a six week period, assessments were made as to the quality of ambulation with regard to balance and control both in and out of the pool. The quality of ambulation in each patient was assessed at the beginning and end of a six week period where aquatic therapy was conducted in a one hour session once a week. The aim of these assessments was to ascertain whether or not aquatic therapy is able to improve the patients’ ambulation outside of the therapy pool. A general description of cerebral palsy is also included as well as the aims of both aquatic and traditional physical therapy. Emphasis is placed on the reasons for which aquatic therapy may perhaps be more helpful with ambulation and balance issues than traditional therapy.


Effect of Smoking on Oral pH
Jennifer Knight, Waynesburg College

Smokers have been shown to have significantly more oral health problems than healthy non-smokers. Here, oral pH was tested in smokers before and after a cigarette to determine if smoking significantly lowers oral pH, which could account for the increase in oral health problems. The results showed that smoking did not decrease oral pH but instead, suggested an increase in the oral pH after smoking. This indicated that there are other factors besides pH that result in an increase of oral health issues in smokers.


Hybridization and Analysis of Salvia divinorum and Salvinorin A
Joseph Koch, Waynesburg College

The psychoactive plant Salvia divinorum has a relatively narrow range of environmental tolerance. In cultivating the plant, significant care and attention are required to prevent overexposure to light and desiccation. Because other species of the Salvia genus are heartier in terms of environmental tolerance, and because Salvia divinorum rarely sets viable seeds, research was conducted with the intent of producing a hybrid between Salvia divinorum and another species of sage. In this case, a hybrid produced may contain the positive aspects of a hearty, fertile species with the presence of the psychoactive diterpenoid Salvinorin A. Currently, genetic diversity in Salvia divinorum is extremely limited, as the majority of plants obtained from growers and sellers are derived from cuttings of one or a few original strains. Producing an ideal hybrid would benefit researches of the plant and its constituent compound by allowing for the possibility of a greater range of environmental tolerance, as well as the ability to observe the growth of a plant containing Salvinorin A from seed. Though this represents what will be an ongoing experiment, no viable seeds have yet arisen from crosses thus far. This further supports the notion that the reproductive systems of Salvia divinorum represent an incompatbility complex that may be due to improper or retarded endosperm formation.


Behavioral responses of Parids and Non-Parids to predation risks: balancing foraging with vigilance
Joseph Laslo and Dave Grunzel, Washington & Jefferson College

Wintering birds in the northern latitudes must maintain high metabolic rates by spending most of their time foraging, thus leaving them more vulnerable to predators. In our study region, this often leads birds to seek the safety of heterospecific flocks, with Parids (titmice and chickadees) forming the core of those flocks. In this study, we examined how birds in these flocks adjusted their foraging rates based on the perceived risk of predation. This was done by counting the number of seeds taken from a feeder by each bird before, during, and after playing various calls. These calls included the Eastern Screech Owl (predator) and the Eastern Tufted Titmouse (a Parid) alarm and contact calls. Titmouse calls were included since other species often respond to the alarm calls of these species. Our results show that Parids had decreased foraging rates in the presence of a perceived risk while Non-Parids did not. Parids often left the area of the feeder in order to investigate the source of the calls, both owl and titmouse alarm calls, and to mob a potential predator. Non-Parids tended to stay and feed regardless of the calls played. Our results suggest that non-parid species in our study area tended to maximize feeding while minimizing their response to the calls of potential predators and flock members, while Parids responded to predator calls and the alarm calls of conspecifics, decreasing their foraging rates but decreasing their potential predation risk.


Evidence that Mistletoe Lectin-I induces apoptosis in human cervical cancer (HeLa) cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner
Emily L. Lensie, Washington & Jefferson College

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Half of all males and one third of all females in the United States are predicted to develop cancer within their lifetimes. As a result, scientists are studying methods of cancer treatment that involve inducing apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. Apoptosis destroys cancer cells without injuring surrounding healthy cells. Conventional cancer treatments usually induce cell death by necrosis, causing the death of neighboring healthy normal cells as well. Therefore, inducing apoptosis of cancer cells could possibly decrease the suffering of cancer patients undergoing treatment. Mistletoe is currently used as a non-conventional cancer treatment in Europe. Extracts from this parasitic plant have been found to induce apoptosis of cancer cells. This study attempted to determine if Mistletoe Lectin-I caused death by apoptosis in human cervical cancer (HeLa) cells. Cytotoxicity assays determined an optimal dosage of 1200ng/ml for 48 hours. DNA laddering assays indicated the presence of low molecular weight DNA. DAPI staining of nuclei indicated condensed chromatin. Indirect immunofluorescence microscopy showed Apoptosis Inducing Factor (AIF) translocation from the mitochondria to the nuclei. All of these results are indicative of cell death by apoptosis.


Toxicity and mutagenesis in wild-type and DNA repair deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae following exposure to chemicals utilized in aviation.
Kevin McCormick and Jamie Fornsaglio, Seton Hill University

Although Royco 634 and JP-8 are chemicals commonly used as a lubricant and in jet fuel respectively, little is known concerning the toxicity and mutagenesis of these chemicals. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, eukaryotic organisms with repair pathways closely related to humans, were utilized to investigate the mechanisms involved in the repair of damaged DNA following exposure to Royco 634 and JP-8. More specifically, mutagenesis and toxicity studies in normal (wild-type) yeast following exposure to these possible mutagens and toxins were compared to yeast deficient in excision repair (ER) and homologous recombination repair (HRR). Our preliminary data indicate that some doses of Royco 634 and JP-8 are more mutagenic to yeast deficient in HRR and ER. Furthermore, yeast deficient in ER demonstrate hypersensitivity to Royco 634. Thus, our preliminary data provide insight into the specific type of DNA damage response pathways activated by these chemicals. Furthermore, these data suggests that individuals with cellular deficiencies in HRR or ER who are exposed to JP-8 and Royco 634 may have an increased rate of mutagenesis to these chemicals; therefore, these chemicals are potential carcinogens.


A Comparison of Visible Subcutaneous Fat Reserves as Employed by Caching and Non-caching Winter-Resident Avian Species
Justin Nock, Amanda Watkins, Logan Weygandt, Washington & Jefferson College

Nearctic bird species utilize various strategies for coping with unpredictable winter food availability and weather conditions. Some basic survival strategies employed by wintering birds have been shown to include internal fat storage, caching, or a combination of the two. We investigated these different strategies by examining abdominal and furcular subcutaneous fat deposits in order to determine the extent to which caching and non-caching birds rely on these deposits as energy reserves. We sampled birds using mist-nets and analyzed visible subcutaneous fat reserves using a five-point scale. We predicted that caching species would have significantly less visible subcutaneous fat than non-caching species due to risks associated with fat deposition. Our results supported this prediction and were consistent with the results of previous studies suggesting greater fat deposition in non-caching species. In addition to comparing fat stores between caching and non-caching bird species, we recorded overnight low temperatures and compared them with fat reserves in an attempt to discover any correlation between the two variables. It has been suggested that birds use fat stores to offset metabolic costs of temperature regulation and we therefore predicted that birds would have less fat reserves as overnight low temperatures decreased. We observed no significant correlation between overnight low temperature and fat score for caching and non-caching birds, however, marginally insignificant results for non-caching species (P=.0866) indicate the need for further investigation.
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