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Medical Science Fair Project Idea

  1. Jan 25, 2009 #1
    So I have been straining my mind for a science fair idea since august and have just now came up with a good idea. I was planning on studying the effects of addiction in mice. My idea is to get 9 mice and place them into 3 different cages and assign them each different numbers, A1 B1 C1, ect. I would then fill 3 different syringes with 2 addictive substances and one placebo ( Nicotine, Alcohol, and a saline/glucose solution). From then i would inject each of the three in A intramuscularly with a small dose of a chemical, B with a moderate dose, and C with a larger dose at a specific time each day for a few weeks, all the while trying to keep myself blinded from which mouse gets which of the three chemicals. I would also try and implement some sort of sensory detail for the mice to associate with the doses like maybe a citrus aerosol spray or a specific music track.

    After two or three weeks, or whatever time period at which they would be dependant upon the drugs, i would cease the doses and observe the withdrawal symptoms. I then plan to inject all of the mice with a placebo at their specific time with the specific sensory detail to test for a placebo calming of the withdrawal symptoms. I would also like to test any known treatments for addiction that i can find.

    Thanks for reading and I wish for some feedback, since my science teacher is of no help at all. Is this procedure ethical to the mice? How hard is it to keep these mice up and alive? Is there anything that i should not do or should change? Are there any other legal addictive substances that I could test? What are some over the counter or traditional addiction cures that i should test on them during withdrawals? Is there anything I could add to make this experiment better? Is there a way to extract the nicotine or can i purchase nicotine in a pure aqueous form? Any feedback will help, I truely appreciate any help that I can get from you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2009 #2
    Curious here.

    I see a procedure, but what hypothesis are you testing? It might help to state a testable question.

    There is plenty of data on drug testing with animal models. Have you looked up any journal articles? Try to find out what methods have been used to administer drugs. Try to find out if animals are addicted to the same materials as people. Try to find out how to identify withdrawal symptoms.

    Do you have plans to quantify your results? Do you know what sort of statistical analysis your data will go through?

    Why did you choose 9 mice? Why not 3 or 20?
  4. Jan 25, 2009 #3
    Your procedure seems too complex. You need to focus one one thing only. Don't add a second variable into the equation. I got points taken off for having too many things I was testing for my experiments.

    What grade are you in that you have to do a Science Fair project?

    I would not suggest to expose all the rats to all of the variables, stick to one variable per rat, and have (say 3) rats for each of the test sites.

    If you are in high school, I'm not sure it's wise to use alcohol, since, you probably are not of the age to even be legal to buy it in a store, let alone handle it (open container). (again, this is kind of depending your age, we don't want you introuble, but I'm sure you have to get it approved by the teacher before starting) I would also skip the idea of a music track, that's something every kid does, you want to be unique and stick out to the judges.
  5. Jan 25, 2009 #4
    If this is a high school project to be undertaken without the support of a laboratory with an accredited animal care facility than I am not sure if it is legal to perform this experiment. There are extensive regulations covering animal care and use in a university setting. Depending on where you are there may be local laws covering this as well.

    Typically, one of the things you do in proposing an animal experiment in a university setting is to justify to your institutional review board that the experiment is novel enough to justify any suffering experienced by the animals. There is already an expansive literature on mouse models of addiction (have you looked at it?). Similar experiments have almost certainly already been done.

    Also, if I were on an institutional review board and saw this proposal, the first question I would ask you would be why you have to inject these substances (a possibly painful procedure and one that could introduce more variation with injection site etc). Why not simply put the addictive substances in the animal's food? Since presumably you are trying to model human addiction, unless you are studying heroin- injection is not the typical method of administration.

    Again, If you are not affiliated with an accredited animal care facility I don't know if this experiment would be legal (I suspect it will vary with local laws). For example, it is almost certainly illegal to experiment on mice bought from a pet store. If you are working in a lab then you should have mentors there to help you with designing the experiment.
  6. Jan 26, 2009 #5
    I dont think the ends justify the means and I suggest that you leave the poor little mice alone and consider something else.
  7. Jan 26, 2009 #6
    The purpose of institutional boards is essentially to evaluate on a case by case basis whether or not "the ends justify the means". This experiment could probably be done in a way that would not cause any undue suffering to the animals involved so there might be no issue here. The only questionable parts are issues of proper animal housing, feeding etc. This is why I'm not sure it can be done without access to an accredited animal care facility.
  8. Jan 26, 2009 #7
    What is meant by undue suffering?Administering alcohol and nicotine which can then induce withdrawl symptoms,or perhaps much worse, constitutes suffering and for what purpose if the research has already been done?
  9. Jan 26, 2009 #8
    When studying withdrawal you have to induce withdrawal. This is not undue suffering. Just as you can explicitly cause pain in order to study pain. Both areas are extremely important for human health with millions of people suffering from withdrawal and from chronic pain. These lines of research can and have led to effective treatment options though there is much more to be done. We only call it "undue suffering" if it is unnecessary given the nature of the experiment.

    Merely saying that research has already been done before is not enough to deem it unethical. The backbone of science is replication of previous results. Without replication it is impossible to infer reliability of results.

    On a separate note, the original poster should think more about what kinds of behavioral variables he specifically wants to look at. That is, how can he quantify withdrawal symptoms. It is not enough to just say that he will "observe what happens when he stops administering the drug". He needs to have a quantitative measure. This may be as simple as "time spent running on a wheel" or something of that sort.
  10. Jan 27, 2009 #9
    Although I feel uncomfortable with the concept of animal experimentation I am not against it and I am aware of the huge benefits that have been gained and undoubtedly will continue to be gained(even probably by the test species itself)by continued experimentation.I believe, however,that before any experimentation is carried out a thorough evaluation needs to be carried out where amongst other things an evaluation needs to be made of any possible benefits to be gained and a search of the literature needs to be made to find out what has already been done.How many times does research have to be replicated before the inferences are deemed to be reliable? In addition to this I believe that any experimentation should be carried out only in approved institutions which have the full range of necessary resources and expertise and which are periodically inspected by external agencies including those concerned with animal welfare.My concern here is whether the above criteria,which were described but differently by Cincinnatus in post number 4, can be met.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  11. Jan 27, 2009 #10
    That is a reasonable position.
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