Evaluation Of Cyanobacteria And Their Toxins In A Two-Staged Model Of Hepatocarcinogenesis

Do algal blooms lead to cancer?

Principal Investigator

Christopher Weghorst, Ohio State University


Research investigates the role of the algal toxin microcystin in the development of liver cancer

Illnesses caused by exposure to cyanobacterial toxins – which come from hazardous algal blooms in lakes – are well known. That’s especially true for microcystins, the bacteria that led to a drinking water ban in Toledo in 2014. For those who drink the water, symptoms range from skin irritation to stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage. Those who swim in the water may suffer from asthma, eye irritation, rashes, and blisters around the mouth and nose.

What researchers don’t know for sure is how carcinogenic the toxins might be.

Enter Christopher Weghorst, environmental health scientist and associate dean for research in the College of Public Health at Ohio State. His research will look to see whether chronic exposure to drinking water containing microcystins as well as other components in cyanobacteria increases liver cancer development in mice.

The End Result

A better understanding of the risks that microcystins present to human health.

Full Project Information

Read about the project at the Ohio Sea Grant website.