The annual Parasitic Helminths: New Perspectives in Biology and Infection conference was held this summer on the island of Hydra, Greece. The organizers note that “An important aspect of this meeting is the interface between parasite biologists and investigators from worm model systems such as C. elegans, which is proving highly effective at bringing new blood and fresh perspectives into the topic.”
Dr. Steffen Hahnel, a postdoctoral scientist at Bayer Animal Health (BAH) in Monheim, Germany, presented data from a research collaboration between BAH and NemaMetrix entitled “Evaluation of derivative-specific pharmacokinetics and potencies of anthelmintic drug classes by assessing nematode motility and pharyngeal pumping.” The study characterized the effects of anthelmintic drugs on C. elegans using two NemaMetrix instruments: the ScreenChip system and the wMicroTracker. The ScreenChip system records electrical signals to monitor pharyngeal pumping — the behavior used to ingest food and a general indicator of worm health — while the wMicroTracker uses a novel laser technology to quantify worm motility in multi-well
Using the two platforms, the researchers generated dose-response curves for three macrocyclic lactone anthelmintics (ivermectin, moxidectin and milbemycin) and one nicotinic agonist anthelmintic, levamisole. Combining the two assay systems provided insights into inter- and intra-class drug effects including potency rankings, differentiation of members of different drug classes, and temporal differences in drug action. This study highlights the importance of selecting appropriate assays for characterizing drug effects and the value of using a two-dimensional read-out (i.e., pharyngeal pumping and worm motility) compared to using only a single modality. Further studies with additional drugs and C. elegans mutant strains are planned.
In addition to Dr. Hahnel, BAH collaborators were Dr. Daniel Kulke and Dr. Iring Heisler, while Dr. Janis Weeks and Dr. William Roberts from NemaMetrix completed the team. The project was funded by the Bayer Life Sciences Collaboration