The Use of Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model for Anthelmintic Drug Study

Kathryn Weaver Bethel College
Faculty Sponsor(s): Brian Ellis Bethel College, Cassandra May Bethel College
Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) are parasitic nematodes that infect humans, inhabiting the intestinal tract, and are transmitted through contaminated soil. These worms include Ascaris lumbricoides, whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), and hookworm (Ancylostoma ceylanicum, Ancylostoma duodenale, and Necator americanus). Nearly two billion people worldwide are infected with at least one species of these parasites, burdening the poor, in particular, children and pregnant women. To combat these diseases, the WHO only recognizes four anthelmintic drugs, including the preferred drug albendazole, for mass drug administration (MDA). These four drugs have a total of two different mechanisms of action, and, as expected, resistance has been observed. This problem calls for new drugs with different mechanisms of action. Although there is precedence for the use of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a free-living nematode, as a model for drug screening and testing for anthelmintic study their usefulness has been called into question as past research has shown that C. elegans did not respond to albendazole, the MDA drug of choice, in comparison with various STHs under similar treatment. To further examine if C. elegans has the potential to be a good model organism for anthelmintic drug discovery and study, we employed a health rating scale in order to tease out potential effects of albendazole, and other anthelmintics, that may have been missed using a binary, dead/alive scale. Using the health-rating scale we found that although the worms may have not been dying, they were sick, showing dose responses to anthelmintic drugs, including albendazole, reinforcing C. elegans as a useful model for anthelmintic study.
Biology
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:15 AM
Gallahue Hall 102