Anti-cancer lymphatic drugs show potential

July 30, 2014

Researchers at the University of Auckland are using zebrafish embryos to investigate potential medicines that will inhibit the spread of some cancers via the lymphatic system.

The latest experiment used the zebrafish embryos to screen thousands of compounds to identify four potential anti-cancer drugs. The results were recently published in the journal, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

"All four compounds had an impact, but one stood out as a particularly good option and that was then tested in a mammalian model," says lead researcher Dr Jonathan Astin. "It was successful in both zebrafish embryo and mammalian models. These could be used as potential anti-cancer therapeutics."

Some cancer tumours use the lymphatic system and lymph nodes to spread and multiply. For instance, many solid cancers metastasise or spread the disease this way, says Professor Phil Crosier who is leading this work with zebrafish. "We are working on drugs that will block that spread within the lymphatic system.

"This work explores lymphatics and the molecular basis of lymphatic system development", he says. "We were doing a large scale screen for compounds that inhibit the development of the lymphatic system."

"For those diagnosed with solid cancer tumours the compounds have the potential to prevent the disease from spreading into the lymphatic system and might be given alongside chemotherapy," says Professor Crosier.

"Four drugs were used in zebrafish and then taken and tried in mammalian models/mice. All four drugs blocked mouse lymphatic development, but one blocked disease spread in the ," he says. "We found some compounds that work and established good proof of principle in the use of zebrafish."

These drugs were also evaluated in mammalian cancer systems in collaboration with researchers at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.

"These big numbers allow us to weed out a lot of false positives and negatives using the zebrafish models," says Dr Astin. "Then we can take the rest into mammalian models with their in vivo efficacy already proven."

"Repurposing drugs in this way, using those that are already FDA approved, means we can take drug development further, faster" says Professor Crosier. "The successful taken to mouse model was a natural product found in plants such as broccoli, capers and tea."

"Using the zebrafish model before mammalian translation provides a much improved screening technique with this system."

All of the drugs that worked in zebrafish had an anti-lymphatic function in mice and can be investigated further for their potential in other uses, for example in corneal transplants.

This work screening for anti-lymphatic compounds using zebrafish embryos was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and further work is funded by a grant from the Health Research Council.

Explore further: Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

Related Stories

Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

May 2, 2014
University of Queensland researchers have discovered that a gene that causes kidney disease also controls growth of the lymphatic system, a key route through which cancer spreads.

Evidence strengthens link between NSAIDs and reduced cancer metastasis

February 13, 2012
A new study reveals key factors that promote the spread of cancer to lymph nodes and provides a mechanism that explains how a common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the spread of tumor cells through ...

New method to grow zebrafish embryonic stem cells can regenerate whole fish

June 30, 2014
Zebrafish, a model organism that plays an important role in biological research and the discovery and development of new drugs and cell-based therapies, can form embryonic stem cells (ESCs). For the first time, researchers ...

Leading discovery will help treat skin disease

June 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A world first discovery about the way skin cells deal with inflammation may prove useful in treating skin diseases.

Method reveals compounds that could help contain the effects of immunological disorders

May 21, 2014
Immune cells known as neutrophils are recruited by chemical signals released from sites of injury and infection. Their primary purpose is to attack pathogens and recruit additional immune defenses, but these cells can also ...

Recommended for you

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.