Friday, February 17, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Allison Kohl, Central City High School, Central City, NE
This experiment tested the effect of gabapentin on Dugesia tigrina’s nervous system after forced split reproduction. This was chosen because only 10% of medications that are approved for the general public are also specifically approved for pregnant women. Gabapentin is a Level C (insufficient data) drug used to treat epilepsy or severe pain after shingles. The prediction stated that gabapentin would have a negative effect on Dugesia tigrina’s nervous system because gabapentin binds to calcium channels, blocking the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Two identical habitats were prepared containing 15 Dugesia tigrina. The worms’ natural reactions was observed as to designing the most efficient way to run the tests. Gabapentin was soaked in egg yolk and fed to the experimental group. After two weeks, split reproduction was performed, which was followed by one week of regeneration, and then three tests were performed: ability to sense light (light test), reaction to being probed (probe test) and ability to detect food (food test).

Results showed a significant difference in the light test. The probe test, and food test did not show a significant difference. This was determined from a T-Test. The light test had a result less than .01 this number shows significance in the data, as previously stated. Recommendations for improving this experiment include using a probe that more closely resembles a natural predator, extension of time to find the food, removing the use of the green food coloring from the test and administering the gabapentin at the proper dosage of 2.4 x 10-5 mg. There were no other studies similar to this one using worms, but a recent study on humans showed a link between gabapentin and preterm birth as well as low birth weight.