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Zebrafish cancer models

Zebrafish may not be the first organism that pops to mind when one thinks about cancer research, but some of the features of this aquatic creature present remarkable opportunities to explore cancer biology from a number of different perspectives.

 

Genetic modifications

Many of the same strategies to generate cancer models are available to zebrafish researchers, and the advantages and disadvantages of this model have been described.  Spontaneous tumors develop in zebrafish. Carcinogenic chemical treatment of fish is a straightforward process. Genetic screening, including N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea treatment, has well established protocols and has generated useful animalsKnockout fish can be created, and transgenes can be introduced and expressed in these animals. 

 

Transplantation studies

Transplantation of cells as a method to study tumor biology is possible in zebrafish, and the techniques for tracking and imaging in zebrafish enable remarkable visualization potential. Leukemia, melanoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma transplantations have been accomplished. Protocols for these xenotransplantations are increasingly available, and more is being learned about cancer stem cells and their behavior in zebrafish as well. As with other model systems, considerations of the immune system of the model need to be taken into account.

 

Various technologies that have been developed for models like mouse are also available to zebrafish researchers, and certainly cross-species investigations and knowledge-sharing will enable additional progress to be made in the utilizations of these models of cancer biology.