Students: Anthony Monte Carlo, Brittany Ruiz, Melanie Lopez, Terra Hoskins

Title: Exploring the Effects of Facilitating Social Behavior to Reduce Chronic Pain

Abstract: The current opioid crisis calls for a new form of non-pharmacological pain management treatment for chronic pain. Opioids, a standard therapeutic option for chronic pain, has harmful, addictive side effects. Social isolation is often another consequence of chronic pain (Mellado et al., 2016). Evidence suggests that social behavior such as having social ties and interactions has been shown to improve mental health (Seeman, 1996). Researching social behavior’s relationship to chronic pain is imperative to create new therapies to decrease opioid use. We propose chronic pain decreases social behavior in Drosophila Melanogaster and by facilitating social behavior pain outcomes will improve. This research implies that we can develop a non-pharmacological way to decrease chronic pain, through the facilitation of social interaction. We will use the courtship behavior of D. melanogaster as a measure of social behavior. Our first aim determines if chronic pain decreases courtship behavior. We will induce neuropathic pain via amputation in adult male flies and measure its impact on their courtship behavior to understand if chronic pain decreases social behavior. Our second aim determines if facilitating social behavior in flies with chronic pain will decrease their sensitivity to thermal pain. Flies will undergo a noxious water test to understand if social behavior will reduce the response to pain.

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