June 6, 2014
That is how this first entry is going to end. At this point in time, that is one of only two things I’m sure of right now. The second is that I don’t want this blog to be mine. I want it to be yours to read, scroll through, be critical of, or figure out what to write to me about in your next letter to me, if I happen to be so fortunate. I’ll try to help you out as much as possible.
Work carried out in that lab I am working in at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) predominantly studies addiction and drug abuse in youth and adults. I will be examining the active component of Cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and any of its effects in cell signaling. I will try to suss out the implications this may have on locomotor and cognitive impairment from that point onward, referring to the data collected after running blood and lymphocyte samples. Explicitly, my aim in all of this is to provide information that is reliable in instructing those regulating, prescribing, and using marijuana, so that they may dispense and use it safely.
Sort of… the main course is still on its way. Right now the best way to describe the situation is something along the lines of, “although I have the utensils and food, I don’t have the plate,” William W. Schweitzer circa Thanksgiving 2010. After spending (the lab's money) the equivalent of my Federal Perkins Loan, a kidney (http://gizmodo.com/5904129/heres-how-much-body-parts-cost-on-the-black-market), and any financial stability I ever hoped to have, I purchased most of the assay kits and drugs necessary for me to conduct this study. The gear included in this kit will allow me to quantify the effect THC or full agonist JWH-018 has on two of their targeted CB1 and CB2 receptors. The first step will be figuring out the details concerning retention times, stock concentrations, and what buffers to use to get stellar (or acceptable, let’s be real here…) protein and calibration curves. Assays run after this will consist of isolated lymphocytes from patients’ blood samples, to produce real data that will be insightful and helpful for the patients involved and others like them. I expect I’ll have more to report in this section in future posts, but for now I guess we’ll just have to continue with the soup until it gets cold.
While playing the waiting game I was assigned to work on a study being led by other parties I cannot mention. What I can tell you is that it’s a study investigating a treatment for cocaine addiction and abuse that measures creatinine in human fluids. This part of the study accounts for any patients who might have watered down their urine with water or drank lots of fluids if they were worried about revealing when their last hit actually was. I don’t mean for that to sound harsh or judgmental, humans are humans and do human things, and that’s why we have this test. Essentially I can measure the impact this dilution might have possibly had on a subject’s results and correct for it mathematically. Part of this process entails the privilege, and I sincerely mean that, to look at a very private part of a person’s life, their pee. Handling this intimate fluid tells me a lot about the person and what their life was like in May of 2009.
Other than working on aging and cocaine studies, I’ve been meeting a lot of great people who rebel effortlessly against their sterile environment with resonating personalities. They all have an eerie intuition for where supplies are located around the lab, and each has her or his own distinct way of folding weighboats out of kimwipes and other papers whenever measuring out substances they need. I’ll have to figure out a pattern for how to fold my own as well.
Figure 1. Ever wondered what cocaine does to your body and want to see it modeled as a mathematical function? This is it kids. Just kidding. You can put your Elementary ‘proud to be drug free ribbons’ back in the gymnasium dumpsters where you left them in 2004. Like I said before, as you’re critiquing this blog you’ve noticed the axes on this graph are blank. What a terrible scientist, am I right? Nope. That’s not for you, because that data is classified. Sorry.
What I have learned or been reminded of so far:
1. Addiction and substance abuse are powerful, but so are the people combating them.
2. To help people you sometimes have to touch their urine… from 6 years ago.
3. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell (x5).