Brain cells and alcohol?

Vanya Metodieva
Friday 5 June 2015

Hey everyone,


It’s been more than a month since the leadership weekend and it was so nice meeting you there. Another definite plus that now I am (almost) proficient in building paper towers and plasticine shapes! On a more serious note, I really appreciate all the ideas for time management and task organization. They were really helpful when I actually started planning and working on the project. The actual team leading skills will hopefully come into practice a bit later on in my career. Currently, cell cultures do not seem to object or question my ways of treating them (thankfully)! Of course, this brings us to the past two weeks of this summer.


I actually spent this time learning how to grow little brain cells in vitro. So far so good-they are all happy and growing. The next step involves treating them with a plant extract and see if this could protect them from dying. This extracts is actually a tincture from a plant called Ptychopetalum olacoides – often used by Amazonian natives to treat memory loss. As you may have guessed, the big question here is whether this traditional medicine can actually protect brain cells from dying. This is most relevant to neurodegenerative conditions where such death steals memories, ability to enjoy things that used to make you happy and gradually strip away your own identity. It may sound dramatic but this is no less than what actually happens to people suffering dementia. Drug industry is far away from saving us from this burden. However, using existing knowledge hidden in the rain forests may tell us something more not only for the treatment but also for the disease itself.




Here is where my project comes into play. After treating these cells with various concentrations I will have to figure out if this plant is actually protecting them from various stress factors and disease-related proteins. Furthermore, I will try to find out how exactly this may be happening on subcellular level.


I hope you are enjoying your summer work as much as I do. I am looking forward to reading your posts. And now off to a summer full of excitement!


All the best,




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