Caenorhabditis Elegans: A Versatile Platform for Drug Discovery

Biotechnol J. 2006 Dec;1(12):1405-18. doi: 10.1002/biot.200600176.


Drug discovery and drug target identification are two intimately linked facets of intervention strategies aimed at effectively combating pathological conditions in humans. Simple model organisms provide attractive platforms for devising and streamlining efficient drug discovery and drug target identification methodologies. The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans has emerged as a particularly convenient and versatile tool that can be exploited to achieve these goals. Although C. elegans is a relatively modern addition to the arsenal of model organisms, its biology has already been investigated to an exceptional level. This, coupled with effortless handling and a notable low cost of cultivation and maintenance, allows seamless implementation of high-throughput drug screening approaches as well as in-depth genetic and biochemical studies of the molecular pathways targeted by specific drugs. In this review, we introduce C. elegans as a model organism with significant advantages toward the identification of molecular drug targets. In addition, we discuss the value of the worm in the development of drug screening and drug evaluation protocols. The unique features of C. elegans, which greatly facilitate drug studies, hold promise for both deciphering disease pathogenesis and formulating educated and effective therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations