Blustein and Psychology Students Look For Conclusive Results in MK801 Research

By Purnell T. Cropper | July 10, 2012

Each summer, a number of Arcadia University students elect to remain on campus for the opportunity to conduct research with faculty. This summer is no different, as research assistants gear up to begin projects in a variety of different fields.

The Psychology Department has sponsored student researchers to continue an on-going study with Dr. Josh Blustein examining the effect of a class of drugs that can block the development of tolerance to opiate analgesics. Ryan Lantzy ’14, Yevgeniy Olkhov ’14, Marissa Paesano ’13 and Jin Zhao ’13 hope to find conclusive results in the trial that MK801 is capable of blocking the development of tolerance to its analgesic (painkilling) effect.

The drug MK801 acts to block the development of tolerance to the analgesic effects of morphine. Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, is also used as an analgesic in pediatric and adolescent surgical procedures to inhibit pain in a way similar to morphine. The hope is that one day, a drug can be marketed that will ensure that analgesics remain effective in blocking pain and can continue to be used in an individual without a decrease in painkilling success and without increasing the dose of the drug.

The experiment was first conducted as an Arcadia University senior Capstone project in 2010 and concluded with positive results. However, in search of further support, Blustein recreated the experiment with students in the summer of 2011 and found contradictory results. Hoping to clarify some of the inconsistent outcomes in past efforts, this year’s team seeks to determine accurate, positive results and figure out why results varied in previous trials.

The undergraduate research team has started background reading and discussing previous relevant published studies to gain a better understanding of the research area. The students expect to begin research in mid-July, concluding the three-week experiment by mid-August.

In the coming summer weeks, the Bulletin will feature additional student summer research highlights. Be sure to check back to see how Arcadia students are impacting their fields of study through faculty-guided research.