C. elegans as a Targeted Molecular Surrogate for Filarid Parasites
Kaveh Ashrafi of the University of California, San Francisco in the U.S. will use the free-living model nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a molecular platform to identify new drugs capable of killing adult filarial parasitic worms, which cause serious infections. C. elegans is a non-parasitic model organism that can be easily grown and manipulated in the lab, unlike related parasitic Roundworms. Ashrafi will genetically engineer C. elegans to carry the parasitic version of the gene encoding phosphodiesterase-4, inhibition of which is known to kill the parasites. This mutant, as well as one carrying the human version of the same gene, will be used in screens to identify drug candidates that can selectively kill adult parasites.