Cancer is one of the most common diseases that affect human life. Zebrafish, a vertebrate genetic and developmental model system, posses the advantages of invertebrate organisms and those of mammalian models, such as large clutch sizes and relative transparency. Histology of normal tissue and cancers in zebrafish is highly similar to that of mouse and human samples. These properties facilitate identification of molecular genetic pathways involved in organ development and homeostasis. Zebrafish have been widely used to study cancer susceptibility and carcinogenesis and make contributions to human cancer biology and discovery of novel cancer targets and treatments.
Using the zebrafish, the lab was able to verify tumorgenesis ability of genes located in the cancer associated genomic regions from GWAS studies and genes whose expression regulations were associated with human cancers. The system also allows the lab to analyze potential effects of small chemical compounds on cancer incidence, cancer proliferation, and tumor metastasis. This important vertebrate system will accelerate cancer biology research and improve our diagnosis and treatment of human cancer.