An Alternative to Mouse in Laboratory
An alternative to laboratory mice has been developed by the researches of Taiwan for testing new medicines with the help of fluorescent fish for showing the effect of experimental drugs on cancerous tumors.
A team was headed by Wu Jen-leih of Taipei's Academia Sinica, which worked on a gene that makes jellyfish fluoresce. This gene was transplanted into the livers of zebra fish and this was then implanted with cancer cells for testing.
Cancerous tissue in Zebra fish was highlighted to a special tint using this gene. This facilitated the scientists to monitor the development of cancer in the liver of the fish with the help of a special microscope and for evaluating the impact of drugs.
Wu stated that fluorescent zebra fish could be used to test the experimental drugs for cancers in lesser time and cost when compared to the conventional laboratory mice. He also said that the selection of zebra fish was made because the structure and function of their internal organs had a close resemblance to humans and their reaction to cancerous tissues is also similar.
It was also claimed by Wu that his team was the first in the world to try out zebra fish in this way.
An US team used this fish two years ago for locating lymphoma. For the implantation of liver cancer in a mouse it takes around 68 weeks. However it takes only six weeks for implantation of liver cancer in a zebra fish. A zebra fish lays hundreds of eggs in a week creating a larger test sample by a zebra fish in a shorter amount of time.
Wu said that in the laboratories the fish works better than the mice. The growth of the internal organs could be monitored by Real time images. These images also monitor how the internal organs are affected by tumors and their position after treatment.
However fluorescent zebra fish is restricted to the use of prescreening the impact of the drugs only. Drugs, which are found to be effective in the fish, may have to re-tested on mice in order to meet the requirements of most countries.
Tissue: A tissue is a group of similar cells, specialised to perform a particular function (or functions). Examples of tissue include, heart mucslce, skin, bone etc. See cancer terms
for more cancer related terms.