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Invertebrate Nerve Cord Compression Model

November 13, 2019

    Brain cancer or spinal cancer is the second most common cancer among childhood cancers
after leukemia. Cancer in the central nervous system, such as spinal cancer, disrupts the spinal nerves, preventing the patient from carrying out any physical activity. Because of this, most patients with spinal cancer suffer greatly. In order to understand these symptoms and underlying mechanisms, most research animal models use growing cancer cells or non-active materials to the spinal cords of vertebrate animals. However, these types of experiments will cause tremendous pain for vertebrates. Thus, if it is possible to study spinal cancer through invertebrates, it would yield a very beneficial animal model.

    In this study, I use L. terrestris, an invertebrate subject with a relatively advanced neural
network compared to its taxonomic status. I added weights onto its nerve cord and injected neurologic drugs such as alcohol, lidocaine, and acetylcholine. Then, I measured the action potential. The parameters of the action potentials were investigated while the earthworm’s nerve cord was pressed to see the relationship between the parameters of wave latent period, peak point, trough point, and wave width, and the pressed weight under the influence of neurologic drugs such as alcohol, lidocaine and acetylcholine. I injected alcohol, acetylcholine, and lidocaine, substances that affect neurotransmission, to determine how these drugs affect invertebrate nerve cords. It was concluded that there existed a linear relationship between the parameters with weight and volume of the infused drug.

   Just by showing this relationship, the data proves the importance for the development of an
advanced invertebrate animal model for spinal cancer study. By using invertebrate models, scientists can save many mammals (like rodents) that are used for spinal cord cancer studies, money, and time for developing practical treatment modalities. Therefore, more research is needed on spinal cancer models from invertebrate animals.