Can Curcumin Cure Cancer? Should Worms Drink Red Wine? Should Worms Eat Pacific Yew? Investigations on the Impact on Lifespan in Caenorhabditis Elegans

by Emily Nielsen, Sarah Larson, Tyler Harm, Miguel Munoz-Gomez, and Brooke Wehle
Faculty advisor: Dr. James Hampton

Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) has served as a model organism for the study of development, aging, and various other biological processes for over thirty years. Our research examines the changes in lifespan of adult worms exhibiting cancer-like phenotypes in response to varying concentrations of curcumin, resveratrol, and paclitaxel (Taxol). Curcumin is a polyphenol isolated from the spice turmeric and has been examined for its effects on human cancer cells. Resveratrol, another polyphenol, is found in red wine and has been investigated for its effects on extending lifespan. Paclitaxel, a diterpene isolated from the Pacific yew, is an approved chemotherapy drug for the treatment of breast, ovarian, and lung cancers in humans. We have capitalized upon the short life cycle of this model organism to investigate the effects of these compounds on lifespan in wild-type and cancer-like mutants of C. elegans.