Hello! My name is Maggie Gralinski, and I am a rising senior at Pitt majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and Irish. Outside of classes and research, I am the president of the Irish club at Pitt and the business manager of Rince na gCathrach Cruach, the Irish dance team at Pitt.
Currently, at Taylor Lab under the direction of my PI Dr. Bradley K. Taylor, I am researching a drug for the prevention of painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN). PDN is a neurological complication of diabetes. The primary feature Type II diabetes (T2D) is high blood glucose which can cause nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system. This is called diabetic neuropathy.
PDN is associated with elevated blood levels not only of glucose but also of methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a highly reactive compound produced as a byproduct of glycolysis, the biochemical pathway of glucose metabolism. MG may contribute to the pathogenesis of both T2D and the pain of PDN. MG accumulates as blood glucose levels rise in T2D.
The drug that I am studying is known as Cyck(Myr)R4E. It is an MG scavenger. It breaks up MG and removes it from the blood. The hypothesis of my current project is that the elimination of MG via chronic injections of Cyck(Myr)R4E over a period of 6 to 8 weeks will reduce pain hypersensitivity in the db/db mouse model of T2D.
db/db mice, but not their heterozygous db/+ mouse controls, exhibit the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, including PDN, because db/db mice lack leptin receptors. Leptin, a hormone released from the fat cells located in fat tissues, is critical in the regulation of body weight. db/db mice lack the leptin receptor, and without a way of mediating leptin hormone levels, obesity ensues. db/db mice weigh nearly twice as much as db/+ controls and can be characterized by their high blood glucose levels.
For the remainder of my time at Pitt, I plan to continue working at Taylor Lab investigating painful diabetic neuropathy as well as other models of pain. With the Brackenridge fellowship, I hope to obtain the skills necessary to be a competent researcher. I am currently in the process of applying to medical school.