I’ve mentioned the tragedy that is cancer. Whether it is of the breast or the pancreas, cancer is not something to be toyed with. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there have been many scientific breakthroughs that could lead to long-term cures. And now, new scientific research could lead to another possible breakthrough.


According to an article from Futurity.com, scientists at the Boston University Medical Campus have been testing zebrafish in order to understand breast cancer further.


Why zebrafish? These zebrafish in particular have mutated genes that have made their skin transparent. And in that transparency lies the potential answer. Hui Feng, director of Boston University’s Lab of Zebrafish Genetics and Cancer Therapeutics, and his team of researchers are studying the development and progression of cancerous cells in the fish. As you could imagine, this is already a difficult process, so having the ability to see directly through the test subject without the use of x-rays or any other technological means is a tremendous boon.


David Farb, a professor at the School of Medicine, explained the benefit of using transparent zebrafish, stating, “The zebrafish can model human systems, and using them allows her to do pharmacological and genetics work quickly and relatively cheaply.”


The final goal of the tests is to find long-term remedies for breast cancer.


Feng and her team study the fish by inserting cancerous cells into the yolk sack of the fish, and, as it matures and grows, watch the cancerous cells grow and multiply.


Fabrice Laroche, a postdoctoral researcher working with Feng, has already learned quite a bit about breast cancer’s process. “When we make the breast cancer cell make more of this gene, or overexpress this gene, then the cancer cells spread more into the fish.” The gene that Laroche is referring to is S1PR1. The gene can be disastrous, as it codes for a cellular receptor that affects cell migration.
Hopefully these new studies offer enough insight into the growth of cancerous cells to allow for some sort of cure. Until then, we do the best we can to prolong the lives of those afflicted by the disease.