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Neurobiology And Drug Discovery Project Using C. elegans (worm) Models Of Movement Disorder


Dr. Bhagwati Gupta (Biology)
Dr. Ravi Selvaganapathy (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Ram Mishra (Psychiatry and Neuroscience

* (click on names to visit lab websites)
C. elegans (worm) is a widely used organism in biomedical research. Researchers are using this tiny worm (~ 1 millimeter) as a model to study a broad range of human disorders and search for candidate drugs and therapeutic compounds. The worm contains only a few (302) neurons, compared to billions in human. Therefore it allows us to dissect the neuronal basis of behavior at a resolution that cannot be done in humans or other higher organisms such as mouse.

C. elegant worms

More research news and movies are HERE.

June 22, 2011

We have received CHRP (Collaborative Health Research Projects) funding from NSERC and CIHR agencies to support research in this area.

April 9, 2011

The following recently published articles summarize disease and drug discovery-related research on worms.

Hulme SE and Whitesides GM (2011). Chemistry and the Worm: Caenorhabditis elegans as a Platform for Integrating Chemical and Biological Research. Angewandte Chemie (International ed in English), vol. 50, pp. 4774-4807. Read here

Rezai P, Salam S, Selvaganapathy PR and Gupta BP (2011). Microfluidic Systems to Study the Biology of Human Diseases and Identify Potential Therapeutic Targets in Caenorhabditis elegans. In Book "Integrated Microsystems and Nanotechnology: MEMs, Photonic and Biological Interfaces". Published by CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group). Read here

May 17, 2010

CMOS meeting (Whistler, BC) presentation

The talk slides provide an overview and background of our project. The advantages of the microfluidics approach in C. elegans-based drug discovery research are summarized. The PDF file (2.7 Mb size) can be downloaded from here

April 5, 2010

The effect of AC electric field on movement of worms

The McMaster research team continues to lead the discovery in the area of C. elegans (worm) microfluidic electrotaxis. In a new study, published last month in the international peer-reviewed journal "Applied Physics Letters" (from American Institute of Physics), the team has demonstrated that at certain frequency the alternate current (AC) electric field can effectively immobilize worms in the microchannel. Thus, for the first time, a combination of DC and AC electric fields provides a unique control mechanism to manipulate worms in the microchannel environment.

The electric field-based movement of C. elegans could be used to study movement-related disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease) and identify potential drug candidates.

Read the full story here.

January 8, 2010

Media coverage of the work published in Lab On A Chip journal (Rezai et al.)

Hamilton Spectator newspaper has published a story on our research findings. Read it here.

November 13, 2009

Behavior of C. elegans (worms) in a microfluidic channel in the presence of DC electric field stimulus

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a way to propel and direct microscopic-sized worms (C. elegans nematodes) along a narrow channel using a mild direct current (DC) electric field. The discovery opens up significant possibilities for developing high-throughput micro screening devices for drug discovery and other applications.

This collaborative work, carried out by groups in Biology and Engineering, has been published in the journal Lab On A Chip (

'Lab On A Chip' is a high impact multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal from the Royal Society of Chemistry (

A normal worm moving inside liquid-filled microchannel in response to a low-voltage electric field



The HTML version of the paper can be found here. The PDF file is available on the journal website (requires subscription).

Click here to visit Dr. Gupta's lab website.
Click here to visit Dr. Selvaganapathy's website.