CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The popular food additive MSG causes stunted brain cell development, a 17-year-old Canadian student working at the University of Calgary said.
Working under supervision during her high school summer break, Michelle Ah-Seng is one of 22 students who began research programs, the Canwest News Service reported.
Ah-Seng directly dosed brain cells from snails with a concentration of monosodium glutamate equal to what a person might eat in a typical serving. She said it became apparent brain cells didn't fully develop when exposed to MSG.
Her supervisor, neuroscientist Naweed Syed with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the university's faculty of medicine, said the girl has made an "exciting" discovery.
"This is the first unequivocal evidence, to my knowledge, that MSG has direct effect on neuronal ability," Syed said. "The stuff she has done (in six weeks), I would call it equivalent to a master's degree."
Syed said the next step for the high school student is to get the results published in a scientific journal, which will require validation of her findings.
Ah-Seng said she plans to continue doing that evenings and weekends while in Grade 12, the report said.