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Funding bid for research into BPA effects on brain functions

By Joe Whitworth+

09-Jan-2014
Last updated on 09-Jan-2014 at 14:48 GMT

The effect of bisphenol A (BPA) on brain function is the target of a project which has turned to a science-based funding platform to kick off the research.

Scientists want to see if the normal dynamics in the brain are affected by low levels of BPA.

The researchers turned to Microryza for funding for their project and they have raised almost $1,000 two weeks in to the appeal.

Usually, funding can be given by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) but because the research is brand‐new, it makes it too risky to finance, according to the people behind the appeal.

Neuroscience point of view

Ricardo Mostany, assistant professor, department of pharmacology, Tulane, said they wanted to look at FDA and EPA results from a neuroscience point of view.

“We want to see if the levels are really safe, we don’t always see minor behaviour changes in parts of the body, we only see changes were things are dramatic,” he told FoodQualityNews.com.

“If BPA causes a change in behaviour there are a lot of things going wrong, we will study low doses at high resolutions to see if what they consider safe is really safe.

“To get funding you need preliminary data and you need preliminary data to get funding, it is a catch 22 situation.”

The goal is to investigate if exposure at doses considered safe by the FDA and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is able to alter the way neurons communicate in the cerebral cortex, causing cognitive deficits in the adult brain.

BPA is a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

Primary data objective

He said the pilot project will get that preliminary data to get further research grants in the future.

Mostany is working with Dr John McLachlan and Dr Sarah Lindsey, members of the Pharmacology Department at Tulane for the study which will be in mice.

He said a key aspect would be that the testing would be done in vivo, unlike many previous studies.

Ricardo Mostany of Tulane University

BPA has a molecular structure similar to estrogen, the sexual hormone present in men and women, so the body may perceive it as the natural hormone, said the researchers.

The full spectrum of effects are not known on the brain and whether these effects act only on memory or also in other intellectual, sensory or motor tasks performed in other cerebral areas.

We want to apply our knowledge and the technology that we have at Tulane University to study if BPA disrupts the normal dynamics of synaptic contacts between neurons when exposing our laboratory animals to low doses of this agent (doses considered safe by the EPA),” said the researchers.

“We want to know whether the new connections that neurons form when the brain is learning or storing information become less stable with BPA exposure.”

They will visualize living neurons in 3D, to see how they form connections and how these connections could be compromised by BPA exposure.

Mostany said he is hopeful they will reach their $15,000 target using the site but they would try and find another source if it wasn’t successful.

Funding will cover animal cost and maintenance, surgery supplies, reagents, consumables and antibody and Western blot supplies.

“The result will be published so everyone can see the results of our investigation, if BPA causes changes than industry and regulatory agencies might need to be more protective with their guidance but if it is safe we will tell that,” said Mostany.

Click here to donate or find out more about the project .

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