Students: Jenny Pan, Manpreet Kaur, Meghan Wachira, Taylor Raio-O’Rourke, Ubaidah Khan

Title: Studying the effects of age on pain perception in Drosophila melanogaster

Abstract: Pain is an unpleasant, negative sensation which affects an individual’s well being. Pain can manifest itself into several forms such as acute, chronic, and neuropathic. There is little known about how the aging process impacts each. Currently, there are conflicting studies on how pain sensitivity changes over a lifetime. Various studies suggest that pain perception decreases as an individual ages, while opposing studies suggest that pain perception increases with age. Our study uses thermally induced noxious stimuli to test pain among various age-groups in Drosophila melanogaster. The short life span of D. melanogaster allows for age-related research to be conducted. Through the usage of an acute thermal pain-assay, we believe that aging will decrease pain perception in D. melanogaster but will increase in chronic pain. Our first aim is to determine how age plays a role in acute thermal sensitivity by exposing D. melanogaster to a noxious temperature of 42°C. The second aim is to determine how age affects thermal sensitivity in chronic/neuropathic pain through the amputation of the right mesothoracic leg of the fly. This proposal will aid in developing an animal model to further explore the mechanisms behind how age affects pain perception. The wide-ranging impact of this study could lead to the development of novel pharmaceutical interventions for pain patients that takes age into account.

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