Blog #3-Reflections

What I love most about science is that it is made up of basic building blocks; including elements in chemistry and cells in biology. When it comes to the chemical aspect, different molecules are made up of different elements which also exhibit different atom connectivity. These different elements and bonds behave in different manners both physically and chemically (i.e while two molecules might have the same ratio of elements, they may react differentely based off the bond strengths and differences. This concept of science is what I continuously have to think about in my research.

Before being able to even test for our goal, the most important part is the formulation. If the formulation is not homogeneous, meaning evenly spread out, our results will not be as accurate. For example, if we test a portion of our samples that has more/less of the components that affects bacterial results, this will skew our results. While one oil and butter mixture may evenly disperse, another may not. Thus, it is important to perform many literatures searches as to why this happens. Do the two oils have different polarities? Different solubilities? Different melting points/boiling points? Different bond strengths? Different densities? What are the differences in their chemical makeup? These are only some of the questions that need to be answered when figuring out why two things behave differently, and why one works better over the other. If we are able to pin point some of the advantages within a substance to be antimicrobial and a UV protectant, this will lead us to a more efficient experiment. This is why literature searches are very important. Science is very much a collaborative field and it’s vital to dissect past research in the concentration.

As of today, we have about a few dozen formulations that are active against killing bacteria as well as acting as a natural sunscreen. Since we now have a good amount of positive, and negative results, we are in the process of differentiating the good from the bad and starting to answer those questions. I am excited to pin point the “perfect” formulation and order new exotic oils/butters to test!

Blog #2- Progress of our research

When talking about research, it is important to recognize that it takes loads of time. You need to collect enough information to prove your experiment as a positive product as well as making sure that there are no outside variables affecting your experiment. When it comes to science, there are many different techniques to interpret results. Finding the correct technique to use is one of the most time consuming aspects in this field of study. Within our project, great strides have been taken to finally push our experiment forward. Before entering this research competition, Dr. Rizzo introduced me to her area of study for one whole semester prior. During that one semester only 1 batch of plates (about 15 surfaces) were able to be tested, with only 1 positive result. Waiting almost 4 months for just 1 positive result was not very ideal for us, especially in the demanding market of medicine. Finally, Dr. Melkonian, who tests our surfaces at a nearby college, was able to find an ideal procedure that is a faster and more effective way to test for antimicrobial effects. With this new finding, we were able to make 5 new formulations that were positive against fighting a common bacteria of the skin called S. aureus. Next, it was important for us to link antimicrobial surfaces with protection against UV light. This led our focus to turn to the positive results we achieved against bacteria and test those specific mixtures to be able to achieve double the benefits.

Testing for UV protection was tough since there are not many experiments that provide insight on a simple way to carry out this research. We knew that we needed color changing beads, which changed to a fluorescent color in the presence of UV light. The UV light would be provided by a UV light lamp which was taken from one of the labs. The first thought was to place the color-changing beads inside a ziplock bag and cover a small portion of the outside of the bag in our formulation. This was tricky since most of the formulations were liquid at room temperature. This caused them to run off the bag and a new idea emerged. What if we used clear scotch tape and boxed off a square as a border so the oils wouldn’t run? This idea is our latest test and actually worked a lot better, but still some of the oils ran in certain directions. Our latest question is figuring out a new procedure to test against UV light, some ideas may be sticking with a petri dish instead of a plastic bad. In all, we found that the oils used with our butters that concluded to be active against bacteria, were also active against UV light.

In the next couple of months, we will continue you to make new formulations as well as improved procedures. It is also important that we test all components of the mixtures alone first, to see if they have a better or worse effect then when they are added to a mixture. If the oil or butter has worse effects within the mixture than on its own, why could this be?

I am excited to find more new and exciting results and push our results to the population for others to start using a more organic approach to medicine.

BLOG #1-Synthesis of unique lubricants made of exotic butters infused with indigenous oils to promote inhibition of bacteria and protection against UV radiation.

Disputes about the affects of antibiotics have recently been on the rise as more research shows they are found to cause damage in the immune system as well as inhibit brain cell growth. Unfortunately, 30% of all prescribed antibiotics are not necessary and stem from doctors prescribing the medications before they receive patients test results. With the overuse of these antibiotics comes the consequence of building resistance towards them, so when needed, our bodies will resist the drug instead of helping our immune system. This topic has sparked many controversial arguments and is implanted in the 2020 action plan of the White House. By year 2020, our government hopes to push developments of new tests to decrease the amount of antibiotics prescribed. In order to achieve this goal, there would need to be 15%, or 23 million, fewer prescriptions by 2020. Our research focusses on aiding the governments plans to do so. It is important to understand that antibiotics are not the saving grace of all bacterial infections, but instead natural approaches can be more beneficial in regards to specific infections.

Our skin, hair and nails are crucial in keeping antagonists out of our bodies internal systems. Fungi like, Trichophyton rubrum, and bacteria like, Staphylococcus aureus, are the most prevalent causes of skin affairs. If not treated, infections of the skin like, Streptococcus pyogenes, are able to penetrate into internal organs and turn into fatalities. Our research not only focuses on bacteria affecting our internal makeup, but also how the mutagen, UV radiation, can alter the expression of our cells and lead to lethal health issues like cancer. In order to test against bacteria and UV radiation, Illipe butter, Mowrah butter, Tacuma butter, and Hemp butter are infused with a variety of exotic oils at different concentrations. These oils include argan, grapeseed, wintergreen, rosemary, guava seed, jajoba, lemongrass, cottonseed, black sesame, vetiver, black walnut and black cumin. In order to make these surfaces, we first need to melt the butters, since they are solids at room temperature. Once they are melted, specific portions of oils are pipetted into the butter. These mixtures are then placed into petri dishes and sent out to be tested against bacteria. If the growth of bacteria on our plates is less than the control (without the mixture) this means we see positive results. To test against UV radiation, UV light changing beads are placed into ziplock bags. On the outside of the bags our mixtures are spread out evenly, and a UV light is shined on top. Again, we will compare our color changing beads with our mixture to the beads in the ziplock bag without our compound. If the beads are less vibrant than the control, this means we see positive results.

We hope that our novel blends show positive results in working against bacteria and decreasing UV light exposure to the skin. If results are not positive, new exotic oils will be derived from all parts of the world, to find the best outcome for our population.