Zebrafish, apart from being popular in aquariums, make good stand-ins for learning human diseases. They share about 70 % of their genes with humans and might be studied at a mass scale, enabling scientists to test hundreds, even thousands of drugs at a time just by including the drug to their water.
One such take a look at got here up with a new potential treatment for a rare blood disorder, Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA): a drug known as trifluoperazine, usually used to deal with psychotic issues. It is now in a clinical trial for DBA in adults, and Leonard Zon, MD, hematology/oncology researcher and director of the Stem Cell Research Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, counts it because the fourth drug his group has identified in zebrafish to reach patients.
As Louis K. Diamond, MD, and Kenneth Blackfan, MD, of Boston Children’s described in 1938, children with DBA are unable to supply mature, functioning red blood cells. Their bone marrow begins the method, creating progenitor cells known as pro-erythroblasts. However, the cells cannot differentiate additional and instead die off. Even today, the only treatment is corticosteroids, which fail in around 20 % of patients or cause prohibitive unwanted side effects. Many patients should depend on lifelong blood transfusions to get the red cells they want.
Over the previous two decades, in part through work at Boston Children’s, DBA’s genetic causes have come into focus, revealing that the majority mutations are in genes for various proteins in ribosomes, cell organelles that themselves build proteins.
As for zebrafish, they’ve additionally led to clinical trials of recent drugs for adenoid cystic carcinoma and melanoma, and a drug enhancing cord blood transplants for cancer and blood disorders.