“Every single student wants to work on cancer …”, exhales Dr.X and quickly adds, ”There are already 1000 mutations being found and a 100 genes’ role in cancer is published every single day. Until and unless there is a ground-breaking technology, cancer research is not going to progress further.”

(The above statement is very true, and I’m still going to write about cancer biology :P)

Scientists across the world have shifted their way of approaching the cancer research.  Cancer biology is reaching a post-genomic state, where human cancers are being sequenced and genetic alterations are characterized. So much data is generated every single day with thousands of mutations, and we are in a desperate need of a tool to translate these findings into therapeutics and build a biological context.

With the existing models, we cannot fully study the heterogeneous and evolving complexity of the cancer. We must use the advantage of each system, and very recently zebrafish has got its attention from the cancer biologists to answer interesting questions leaving behind the mice model.

Its versatility to study the human cancer in-vivo real time made it a popular model organism to answer cancer. So what makes zebrafish an unique player in cancer biology ?

  • Zebrafish develops cancer that is genetically and histologically similar to human cancer.
  • Large-scale forward genetic screens allow an unique opportunity to spot cancer phenotypes in an unbiased manner.
  • Zebrafish embryos are transparent and adult transparent strains like casper allows unprecedented freedom of in-vivo imaging and study of cancer growth at single-cell resolution.
  • Multigenic changes and interactions can be easily studied in zebrafish – Cross species Oncogenomics.
  • Xenotransplantation of human cancer cells into zebrafish opens a door for personalised cancer therapy.
Human cancer cells injected into zebrafish embryos shows metastasis as in-vitro model Image:Leiden University

Very recently, xenotransplantation of human cancer cells in to zebrafish embryos has become an important tool in the cancer research to address metastasis, micro-environment interaction of cancer cells, drug screening and as ‘personalised cancer therapy’ tool.

Zebrafish embryos do not develop an active immune system for 14 days of their birth, this allows injection of human cancer cells in to the system without being rejected by the body and it gives ample to study the cells in its body. The in-vivo imaging to assess metastasis of cancer cells is answering a lot of interesting questions in the cancer biology.

Important tumour suppressors and regulators of metastasis are directly identified by this tool. The evolving property of cancer can be modelled using multigenic approach and cross-species Oncogenomics. ‘A personal fish for Everyone’ will be a concept soon to individually model ones cancer and study the cells interactions in the organism while treating patient.

Zebrafish cancer biology research has begun to answer science with its robust and new technologies. Though mice model is always the cornerstone in cancer biology, zebrafish has outweighs the system in the way it can function. It is undoubtedly accepted that the zebrafish community has a strong record of leading technologies in biology research.

http://www.geneticengg.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Untitled-1-1024x683.jpghttp://www.geneticengg.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Untitled-1-150x150.jpgSudharsan VaratharajanGeneticsHealth and Medicinezebrafishcancer,cells,metastasis,zebrafish“Every single student wants to work on cancer …”, exhales Dr.X and quickly adds, ”There are already 1000 mutations being found and a 100 genes’ role in cancer is published every single day. Until and unless there is a ground-breaking technology, cancer research is not going to progress further.” (The...When Nature and Science meet, Magic happens !