Model Systems Unit

This Core will use invertebrate organisms (C. elegans and D. melanogaster), together with primary human and mouse cell lines, to evaluate thousands of potential anti-aging drugs. We will use these relatively simple systems to identify drugs that, in parallel, increase worm and fly lifespan while also affecting cellular stress resistance. Effective drug treatments will then be combined with molecular genetic techniques to verify their effectiveness at altering multiple, health-related outcomes and to characterize new evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of aging. The most promising candidates will be explored for effects to extend lifespan and delay age-related disease (or decline) in the Core Facility for Slow-Aging Mice. Years 1 and 2 will be devoted to screening roughly 4000 compounds for beneficial effects in worms and flies and to screening upwards of 170,000 elements for effects on mouse fibroblasts.

Scott Pletcher (Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology) is the Director of this core and will supervise the Drosophila work. Ao-lin Hsu (Associate Professor of Medicine) will direct the experimentation using C. elegans worms. David Lombard (Assistant Professor, Pathology) will direct the studies of cellular stress resistance in collaboration with Rich Miller, and Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska (Assistant Professor, Pathology) will coordinate drug design and the development of new drug-screening strategies.

Information for Potential Collaborators

The Core plans to develop a database of aging and stress resistance data for all drugs examined. These data will be made publically available, and they are also available by contacting Dr. Pletcher (spletch@umich.edu). Details of healthspan measures and protocols will be made available for laboratories interested in pursuing similar strategies. Requests for phenotypic analysis of animals fed specific compounds will be considered. Please direct all inquiries to Dr. Pletcher.