Brockton High School
Brockton, MA

Joshua Sacher
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Disease 

Current diagnostic methods for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, and Huntington’s Disease are associated with detection of neuroinflammation.  Unfortunately, these current diagnostic methods are only able to detect these diseases late in the disease progression.  Development of a diagnostic tool to detect these diseases earlier would be advantageous in improving the treatment and prognosis of individuals suffering from these neurological diseases. COX-2 is an enzyme associated with neuroinflammation, and is upregulated in many neurological diseases.  Amidat sought to develop a PET tracer that could selectively measure the amount of COX-2 in the brain.  Using organic synthesis techniques, she took properties from the known drugs aspirin and lumiracoxib to synthesize several target molecules, and tested them for binding selectivity to COX-2 using IC50 values and a COX-2 enzymatic assay.

Amidat applied to BSSP because she wanted to do something she was passionate about and have an opportunity to keep learning and exploring her interests. This summer experience absolutely influenced Amidat's decision to continue to pursue science. "It is an amazing experience to be surrounded by people who love their job, and are very open-minded to hear other people's ideas. I love the fact that everyone supports each other and puts their minds together," said Amidat.