Testing Natural Products on Leukemia in the Soft-Shell Clam, Mya arenaria

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Benjamin Low UNH - Department of Biological Sciences
Kathryn Waters UNH - Department of Biological Sciences
Gregory Welch UNH - Department of Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisors:

Charles Walker UNH - Department of Biological Sciences

The soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, exhibits a proliferative blood neoplasm similar to human acute myelocytic leukemia (AML). For this reason, Mya arenaria was put forth as a marine invertebrate model for cancer research. By applying etoposide, a known antineoplastic agent, to the naturally occurring leukemic cells both in vivo and in vitro, a convincing argument for its suitability has evolved. Evidence demonstrating effective cancer treatment and a dose-dependent reaction was produced and quantified.

Also, the effects of suspected antineoplastic products on the cancerous model organism were examined to determine its potential in developing new treatments. Two secondary metabolites from marine organisms were administered to explore this possibility. Didemnin B, from the tunicate Trididemnus solidum, and Bryostatin-1, from the bryozoan Bugula neritina, were applied to cells in vitro. Also, a crude extract was prepared from live Bugula neritina and subsequently tested on the soft-shell clam, both in vivo and in vitro.

General results and comparisons were produced supporting Mya arenaria's potential as an effective model for cancer treatment and research. Findings also indicate Bryostatin-1 and Didemnin B both exhibit antineoplastic properties.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Testing natural products on leukemia in the soft-shelled clam, "Mya arenaria" (1999). Benjamin Low, Kathryn Waters and Gregory Welch. Advisor: Charles Walker.