In Portugal, the response to chemotherapy is tested in zebrafish larvae


Portuguese scientists have chosen to use larvae instead of laboratory mice in order to obtain responses that allow better targeting of treatment to a patient in a timely manner after diagnosis.

That is why Portuguese scientists are testing, using zebrafish larvae, the most effective chemotherapy for each cancer patient, having already concluded in a preliminary study that the response to the drugs varies despite the fact that the target tumor is similar.
The results of this study, coordinated by Rita Fior of the Champalimaud Center in Lisbon and Miguel Godinho Ferreira of the Gulbenkian Institute of Science in Oeiras, were published this week in the digital edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers implanted tumor cell fragments from five colorectal cancer patients in zebrafish larvae, which were then treated with the drugs commonly used in chemotherapy against this type of cancer.

The result was that two patients, whose tumors did not respond in the larvae to the chosen drug, suffered a short time after a relapse with the same drug. In contrast, two other patients, whose tumor cells responded to the treatment given in zebrafish, reacted well to the therapeutic option. The test did not work in another patient who had undergone a first chemotherapy treatment prior to surgery.

In statements to Lusa, Rita Fior stressed that although the results “are promising” for the personalized and effective treatment of cancer, there is “still a long way to go”, noting that the next step will be to carry out clinical studies with a Patients and extend them to other types of cancer, such as the breast, for which there are several chemotherapy options available.

The scientific team hopes to have more consolidated results within two to three years, and chose to use zebrafish larvae as a model instead of mice to obtain responses that would enable a patient to be treated in a timely manner once done (With a mouse, the results appear after months, not two or three weeks, as with zebrafish).