Page URL:

Examining cells in zebrafish model offers new hope for cancer

12 September 2011
Appeared in BioNews 624

It is hoped that a new method for studying cell development could lead to cures for diseases such as cancer, UK scientists have reported.

A group of researchers at the University of Bath combined traditional genetics techniques with mathematical modelling to study gene networks involved in cell regulation. Using this approach in a zebrafish model has allowed a better understanding of the intricate details of the processes that dictate how healthy skin cells are generated from multipotent stem cells.

All cells in the body are derived from multipotent stem cells. The signals that control when, where and which cells are finally produced are complex and currently poorly understood. However, it is known that cells can start to function incorrectly when certain signals and processes go wrong, which can lead to diseases such as cancer. Understanding the complex pathways that occur in producing and maintaining healthy cells is essential if scientists are to understand what happens when things do go wrong.

'This research is an on-going collaboration between mathematical modelling and biology. We are now looking in more detail at the core of the cell model we have come up with, and are hoping to secure additional funding to extend the research and further develop this combined-approach technique', said senior author Dr Robert Kelsh from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath.

While the findings in this study strictly relate to melanocytes (specialised skin cells) and thus only to skin cancer (melanoma), the authors believe the technique can easily be modified to study other cells and their associated cancers.

The researchers also hope that understanding the programming that occurs in producing differentiated cells from multipotent stem cells will aid in the development of stem cell-based therapies in the future.


8 February 2016 - by Dr Helen Robertson 
Researchers have visualised the onset of skin cancer at its earliest, single-cell stage for the first time...
18 August 2014 - by Siobhan Chan 
Researchers studying the zebrafish have discovered how a certain type of stem cell, which produces all the blood cells in the body, is formed...
18 June 2012 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
The top models featured in the latest Naked Genetics podcast are not the kind that grace the runway – they're the ones that grace our laboratories, providing valuable clues about conditions like Alzheimer's, viral infections and plant diseases...
27 September 2010 - by Matthew Smart 
Scientists from Cancer Research UK, Cambridge have suggested a new model for gut stem cell renewal. It was thought that gut stem cells could only renew themselves via a process of hierarchical cell division...
9 August 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Scientists have successfully grafted human testicle tissue into mice, allowing them to study for the first time how boys' testicles develop in the womb...
12 July 2010 - by Victoria Kay 
A US study looking at the relationship between genes known to cause a rare genetic disease has shown that common and rare genetic variants interact to make symptoms more or less severe...
28 January 2004 - by BioNews 
A team of Japanese and US researchers has managed to create transgenic zebrafish, using genetically-modified sperm grown in the laboratory. Researchers at the Fukui Prefectural University in Obama, Japan and the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), say their findings have implications for a wide range of research areas...
4 December 2000 - by BioNews 
The UK's Sanger Centre, which has decoded a third of the human genetic code, will soon begin work on the zebrafish genome. The results of the project, which is to be funded by the Wellcome Trust, will be made freely available. Earlier this year, some scientists were concerned that the...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.