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Anna Sternberg

Using siRNA Silencing to Inhibit Epileptic Pathways in the Hippocampus

Departments: IDEAS (Bioengineering)
Advisor: Yevgeny Berdichevsky

Traumatic brain injury is a major risk factor for the development of epilepsy, or epileptogenesis. The hippocampus can be used as an organotypic model of post-traumatic epilepsy. Certain molecular processes are responsible for epileptogenesis, such as axon sprouting and synaptic development. Therefore, antiepileptic therapies must target the molecular pathways involved. A proposed method to identify these pathways is the use of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to selectively silence expression of proteins involved in axon sprouting and synaptic development. Our lab did not have an established experimental protocol for siRNA silencing, so we have begun optimizing each parameter of the study. We have found that hippocampal cultures thinner than the typical thickness of 350 um are viable; meaning they contain live neurons that continue to undergo axon growth. Additionally, neurons in the outer layers of these cultures were found to successfully take up siRNA molecules. Since 250 um hippocampal cultures proved to be effective for siRNA application, we will continue the study by observing siRNA knockdown of proteins that are involved in axon sprouting.

About Anna Sternberg:
Anna Sternberg is a senior in the Integrated Degree in Engineering and Arts and Sciences (IDEAS) program, studying Bioengineering and Molecular Biology with a minor in Health, Medicine, and Society. She has worked with Dr. Yevgeny Berdichevsky for 2 years, initially joining his lab through Lehigh’s Biosystems Dynamics Summer Institute summer research program. She spent Summer 2014 in Luxembourg partaking in immunological research through Lehigh’s International Internship for Global Leadership Program. Anna is interested in further studying infectious diseases and pathology in relation to public and global health interests. She intends to attend a public health graduate school after graduating from Lehigh.