Cecilia Bouzat of the Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de Bahía Blanca in Argentina will develop a drug screening platform to identify new antiparasitic drugs using the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. There are limited numbers of effective anthelmintic drugs and resistance to these drugs is emerging in the field. However, parasitic nematodes are unsuitable for large-scale drug screens mainly because they generally require host animals to survive. She will use the related free-living C. elegans to screen extracts of medicinal plants from South America and isolate bioactive compounds from any extracts demonstrated to be toxic for nematodes. The protein targets of these compounds will then be identified and the corresponding DNA from the clinically-relevant nematodes will be incorporated into C. elegans by genetic engineering to validate the compound's anthelmintic activity and enable the testing of derivatives that may be more effective.
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