What do zebrafish and people have in common? More than you might think actually.
The zebrafish genome and immune system is similar to ours. So scientists can use them as models to identify molecules that kill leukemia cells.
Last month researchers at the University of Utah announced that they had successfully treated zebrafish with T-cell acute lymphoid leukemia (T-ALL) using a new molecule called LDK. T-ALL is a particularly nasty form of leukemia and the odds of a relapsed T-ALL patient beating the cancer a second time are very low. So there’s a huge need for more targeted therapies to combat the high toxicity and mortality associated with current T-ALL treatment.
The beauty of LDK is that it has minimal side effects. It also works differently from current leukemia therapies as it blocks a signal needed for cancer cell survival AND a pathway that controls cell growth. Because of this unusual combination of effects, LDK could end up being a more selective, less-toxic option for T-ALL patients.
The University of Utah team also looked at how effective LDK is with other blood cancers, namely chronic myeloid leukemia and B-cell acute lymphoid leukemia. Turns out LDK kills these cells as well, so it could be a molecule that brings hope to many more patients.
All thanks to the zebrafish!
Read the full study write-up on sciencedaily.com.