IMAGE: A new study suggests the power of fast-breeding zebrafish, combined with fluorescent tags, as tools for cancer drug discovery. view more
Credit: Katherine C. Cohen/Boston Children’s Hospital
The lab of Leonard Zon, MD, at Boston Children’s Hospital has long been interested in making blood stem cells in quantity for therapeutic purposes. Looking for a way to test for their presence in zebrafish, their go-to research model, they turned to the MYB gene, a marker of blood stem cells. To spot the cells, Joseph Mandelbaum, a PhD candidate in the lab, attached a green fluorescent tag to MYB, easily visible in transparent zebrafish embryos.
“It was a real workhorse line for us,” says Zon, who directs the Stem Cell Research Program at Boston Children’s.
The line has also proved valuable for discovering cancer drugs. In addition to being a marker of blood stem cells, MYB is an oncogene.
About five years ago, Zon was at a cancer meeting and serendipitously met Jeff Kaufman, who was also interested in MYB. Kaufman was excited to hear about Zon’s fluorescing MYB zebrafish, which reproduce quickly, can be studied at scale and are surprisingly similar to humans genetically. He asked if Zon had ever heard of adenoid
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