Every following week of TRIP, I spent two hours conducting the larval memory assay. At first, the idea of training fruit flies to learn was just mind-boggling and even comedic. However, I soon grew to realize the striking similarities between larvae and humans. The fruit fly larvae were able to associate a banana scent with sugar, and a pineapple scent with no sugar. The larvae definitely enjoyed the banana scent more, since sugar added a nutritional advantage to their diet. After successive rounds of training larvae on separate scented agar plates, I tested their memory by placing them on a sugar-free agar plate with a pineapple scent and a banana scent side. To my surprise, most of the larvae in my control group actually were able to recall that banana meant sugar! Unfortunately, my data also supported the claims made by the FDA. Larvae that were exposed to the statin drug had as much as a 12% drop in cognitive function!
In addition, the fruit flies also experienced detrimental hits to their fertility, as the number of embryos per female dropped by as much as 90% with the intake of atorvastatin! Clearly, atorvastatin had negative impacts in both the aspects of cognitive function and female fertility. However, statin intake also results in great gains, such as a decreased potential of getting cardiovascular diseases. My research aims to shed light on the possible consequences of ingesting statins, but the benefits must also be weighed in.
Throughout the fourteen weeks of TRIP, I have learned far more than just laboratory techniques. I have learned to look at problems and questions from different perspectives in order to reach a resolution. However, most importantly, I was further able to experience the power of teamwork. Three of my fellow TRIP classmates and I formed an unimaginably close bond as we examined our own questions. All four of us were active researchers performing the larval memory assay. Every single week, we would start out with making agar plates together as a team. One of my favorite TRIP moments was pouring agar plates with my fellow labmates. We would then work as a team to navigate the seemingly complicated steps to the memory assay. It really was an exceptional partnership that transformed the way I perceived lab work.
These past fourteen weeks of research with TRIP was truly revolutionary. I enjoyed the experience so much that I look forward to many future research opportunities down the road!