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Sheridan College INBRE Students Present Research Work in Washington, D.C.


May 21, 2013 — Three Sheridan College students were among only four community colleges who presented posters at the prestigious Council on Undergraduate Research program in Washington, D.C.

The students -- Joseph Graves, Deo Lachman and Duane McMurtry -- recently presented “Attaching Snake-derived Anticoagulants to IV Lines” during the 17th annual Posters on the Hill competition at the Rayburn House Office Building. They attended with their Sheridan College adviser, Robert Milne.

Sheridan College is part of the Wyoming INBRE (Wyoming IDeA Networks for Biomedical Excellence) Community College Research Network. More than 500 undergraduate research abstracts were submitted and only 100 accepted, says Scott Seville, associate dean in the UW Outreach School and associate professor of zoology and physiology. He oversees INBRE's undergraduate education and mentoring program at the University of Wyoming and all seven Wyoming community colleges.

Each spring, the Council on Undergraduate Research hosts Posters on the Hill. Students from throughout the country are selected on a competitive basis to present their research posters at an event that hosts invited guests, including a number of senators, congressional representatives and staff, federal agency program officers and the science press corps.

Students have an opportunity to meet with their elected representatives, attend field trips and hear speakers who are innovators and participants in undergraduate research.

The Sheridan College students investigated the isolation components of snake venom that has the potential to prevent blood clotting. Snake venoms are rich sources of biologically active components. While life-threatening on envenomation (venom injected by a bite), the venom’s components offer potential health sciences applications.

When materials interact with human blood, blood clots may form on the materials and interfere with their purpose. One goal of the students’ research is to find compounds that will slow down or completely stop blood clotting. A compound that produces this result is the anti-coagulant component of snake venom known as fibrinolytic enzymes.

The enzymes have the potential to reduce blood clots in an intravenous (IV) line. The fibrinolytic enzyme interferes with the process of blood clotting by cleaving the fibrin in blood and disrupting the blood-clotting cascade, the students say. The enzyme is isolated from the venom of the southern cottonmouth snake.

Another goal of this research is to tether the anti-coagulant protein to the interior of an IV line, reducing the likelihood of blood clots. There are two approaches to securing the enzyme to the surface. The first is mixing the isolated anticoagulant with urethane. The urethane-enzyme mixture would then be applied in a thin layer to the inside surface of the IV line.

The second approach involves attaching the enzyme by using a fungal protein called hydrophobin. The hydrophobias bind the enzyme to the interior of the IV line.

The students say results from both approaches will be reported at a later time.

For more information about the INBRE Program, contact Seville at (307) 268-2543 or email sseville@uwyo.edu.

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