Dang, M., Fogley, R., Zon, L.I. (2016) Identifying Novel Cancer Therapies Using Chemical Genetics and Zebrafish. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. 916:103-24.
Chemical genetics is the use of small molecules to perturb biological pathways. This technique is a powerful tool for implicating genes and pathways in developmental programs and disease, and simultaneously provides a platform for the discovery of novel therapeutics. The zebrafish is an advantageous model for in vivo high-throughput small molecule screening due to translational appeal, high fecundity, and a unique set of developmental characteristics that support genetic manipulation, chemical treatment, and phenotype detection. Chemical genetic screens in zebrafish can identify hit compounds that target oncogenic processes-including cancer initiation and maintenance, metastasis, and angiogenesis-and may serve as cancer therapies. Notably, by combining drug discovery and animal testing, in vivo screening of small molecules in zebrafish has enabled rapid translation of hit anti-cancer compounds to the clinic, especially through the repurposing of FDA-approved drugs. Future technological advancements in automation and high-powered imaging, as well as the development and characterization of new mutant and transgenic lines, will expand the scope of chemical genetics in zebrafish.