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Microfluidic Devices for Drug Discovery: Electrophysiological Measures in Nematode Worms
Dr. Chris Doe, University of Oregon
The NemaMetrix / University of Oregon team is working to achieve ultimate proof-of-concept for a microfluidic device designed to accelerate drug discovery using the microscopic nematode C. elegans as a model organism. The device is based on the long-established finding that the nematode throat, or pharynx, is extremely sensitive to many classes of drugs, including the anthelmintics, which are used to ward off nematode infections in humans and livestock worldwide. The pharynx is a neuromuscular pump involved in feeding. It beats regularly, like the heart, emitting large electrical signals that can monitored on the surface of the body, as in an electrocardiogram or EKG. In nematodes, such recordings are called an “EPG.”
To date, NemaMetrix has demonstrated a recording system that monitors EPGs in eight nematodes at once while simultaneously applying minute quantities of drugs to each one. This device has the potential to transcend a key bottle-neck in the anthelmintic discovery pipeline: the determination of mode of action. There may be additional applications with respect to distinguish between true anthelmintics and non-specific biocides (generic poisons).
Company Website: nemametrix.com