Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Transparent fish to make human biology clearer

07.02.2008
Researchers can watch cancer spread and bone marrow engraft

Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans and are good models for human biology and disease. Now, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have created a zebrafish that is transparent throughout its life. The new fish allows scientists to directly view its internal organs, and observe processes like tumor metastasis and blood production after bone-marrow transplant in a living organism.


Caption: The transparent zebrafish.
Credit: Richard Whtie, MD, PhD

The fish, described in the February 7 issue of Cell Stem Cell, was created by Richard White, MD, PhD, a clinical fellow in the Stem Cell Program at Children's, with others in the laboratory of Leonard Zon, PhD.

The classic method for studying human diseases in animals is to allow the animal to get the disease, kill and dissect the animal, then ask, "what happened?" But in cancer and other fast-changing processes that traverse the body, this method is bound to miss something. "It's like taking a photograph when you need a video," says White, also an instructor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Zebrafish embryos have enabled researchers to study disease in live organisms, since they are transparent. But zebrafish adults are opaque. "Everything after four weeks has been invisible to us," says White.

White's first experiment on the zebrafish examined how a cancer spreads. "The process by which a tumor goes from being localized to widespread and ultimately fatal is the most vexing problem that oncologists face," says White. "We don't know why cancer cells decide to move away from their primary site to other parts in the body."

White created a fluorescent melanoma tumor in the transparent fish's abdominal cavity. Viewing the fish under a microscope, White saw the cancer cells begin to spread within five days. He even saw individual cells metastasize, something that has not been observed, so readily and in real-time, in a living organism.

The spreading melanoma cells appeared to "home" to the skin after leaving the abdominal cavity. "This told us that when tumor cells spread to other parts in the body, they don't do it randomly," says White. "They know where to go."

White plans to study tumor cell homing, then look for ways to modify the tumor cells or cells of the host so that the spreading cells never find their new location.

The fish may also answer questions about stem cell transplants. While transplants of blood-forming stem cells help cancer patients rebuild healthy blood, some transplants don't "take," for reasons that are unknown. Scientists have lacked a full understanding what steps blood stem cells must take to do their job, says White.

White showed the process is observable in the fish. He first irradiated a transparent fish's bone marrow, then transplanted fluorescent blood-forming stem cells from another zebrafish. By four weeks, the fluorescent stem cells had visibly migrated and grown in the fish's bone marrow, which is in the kidney. Even individual stem cells were visible, something researchers haven't easily observed in a living organism, White says.

By studying how the stem cells embed and build blood in the fish, scientists can look for ways to help patients rebuild their blood faster. Drugs and genes could be tested in the living fish, with direct observation of results, White says.

White created the transparent fish simply by mating two existing zebrafish breeds. Zebrafish have three pigments in their skin—reflective, black, and yellow. White mated a breed that lacks reflective pigment, called "roy orbison," with one that lacks black pigment, called "nacre." The offspring had only yellow pigment in their skin, essentially looking clear. White named the new breed "casper."

The fish's brain, heart, and digestive tract are also visible, allowing researchers to study genetic defects of these organs from early embryonic development through adulthood. White hopes this tool will provide insight into how mutated genes cause diseases ranging from Alzheimer's disease to inflammatory bowel disease.

"What happens in a living organism is different than what happens in a dish," White says.

Elizabeth Andrews | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom

Further reports about: Pigment Stem Transparent White organism spread stem cells transplant

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht UK chemistry researchers develop catalyst that mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis
26.06.2017 | University of Kentucky

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers

26.06.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Correct connections are crucial

26.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>