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Biotech Science

See-Through Fish Help Cancer Research 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the slim-fish-body dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "What is transparent, swims, and helps cure cancer? Caspar the friendly fish — a zebrafish bred with a see-through body to make studying disease processes easier for rapidly changing processes such as cancer, Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways and serve as good models for human biology and disease. In one experiment, researchers inserted a fluorescent melanoma tumor into the abdominal cavity of the transparent fish and by observing the fish under a microscope, they found that the cancer cells started spreading within five days and could actually see individual cells spreading. "The process by which a tumor goes from being localized to widespread and ultimately fatal is the most vexing problem that oncologists face," says Richard White, a clinical fellow in the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston. "We don't know why cancer cells decide to move away from their primary site to other parts in the body." Researchers created the transparent fish, (photo) by mating two existing zebrafish breeds, one that lacked a reflective skin pigment and the other without black pigment. The offspring had only yellow skin pigment, essentially appearing clear."
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See-Through Fish Help Cancer Research

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  • by Verteiron (224042) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:20PM (#22329434) Homepage
    THIS [google.com] is a transparent fish. I have five of these, and they never cease to amaze me.
    • by keeboo (724305)
      What's this? The "Corpse Fish"?
      • by mikael (484)
        This is a "Blob-fish"

        Blob fish [lumq.com]

        No muscles, just gelantinous flesh so it can float just above the sea-bed without exerting any energy and eat anything that happens to float by.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ezzthetic (976321)
      That's not a transparent fish

      It's a space station ...

    • by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:56AM (#22330102)
      THIS is a transparent fish. I have five of these, and they never cease to amaze me.

      They're pretty but having to wipe them down with Windex once a week is a pain. Oh, also they don't seem to live more than a week.

    • when I saw the pic of the "transparent" fish I thought of your catfish which I've seen many times in tropical fish stores. So why not spend 1.69 and buy a few and avoid the lengthy process of breeding your own? Anyone?
      • by VagaStorm (691999)
        Yes, but they can't patent fish they bought in the store. How on erth should they make $$$ of it :p
        • Quote: "We don't know why cancer cells decide to move away from their primary site to other parts in the body."

          Someone thinking carefully expresses thoughts carefully. A careful-thinking person would never say "decide to", because that communicates the idea that the cancer cells are thinking.

          So, maybe you are right. Maybe it's just fraud masquerading as science, sneaky marketing, not a breakthrough. Maybe they are just trying to sell their own brand of transparent fish.
          • by edittard (805475)

            A careful-thinking person would never say "decide to", because that communicates the idea that the cancer cells are thinking.
            They aren't the kind of thing you want to make an enemy of, and they really hate it when people anthropomorphise them.
          • by lessthan (977374)

            A careful-thinking person would never say "decide to", because that communicates the idea that the cancer cells are thinking.

            That is a bit pedantic. The reason for the movement of the cells is unknown. "Decide to" is only a placeholder for the actual mechanism, which they are trying to discover. Anthropomorphism is a useful way to express that lack of knowledge. Only someone completely unfamiliar with the concept of cancer would leap to "Oh noes, teh cancer thinks!!"

            The summary itself says that the ze

          • Someone thinking carefully expresses thoughts carefully. A careful-thinking person would never say "decide to", because that communicates the idea that the cancer cells are thinking.

            Who said anything about thinking? "Decision" is a word that is often used in cellular biology to describe cellular events in response to molecular mechanisms that don't involve thoughts. It's a simple, time saving term that is easy for the general public to understand and is not too technical. As this was not a technical report it's actually a good thing to make it generally accessible. If you use jargon, people without a background in what you're talking about often feel offended, like you're trying t

      • There is in fact quite a good reason. The zebra fish is a very commonly used organism when it comes to developmental biology and genetics (two of the major disciplines involved in 'basic' cancer research). Because so many advanced experiments have been done on it, the fish is well understood. There are assays, experimental models, and much other research that has already been done in the zebrafish. The catfish has the advantage of being transparent already, but comes second in favour to the zebrafish by
        • Thank you Lunar_Lamp. Knew there had to be a reason.
        • by afedaken (263115)
          There's also the advantages of ease of breeding. Zebrafish are extremely prolific, laying hundreds of eggs at a time, and reaching sexual maturity in as little as 90 days. For experiments requiring chordates, they're unmatched.
    • by dargaud (518470)
      Also these species of transparent fishes [wikipedia.org] native of Antarctica. Harder to keep in a tank though.
    • by afedaken (263115)
      WOO! At last, a chance to talk with FISH GEEKS. Are you afflicted with MTS, and if so, how far has it progressed?

      (4) 10G
      (1) 55G
      (1) 30G
      (1) 15G
      (2) 2G
      (1) 3G
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)
        2 10s and a 40 at home, a 10 at work. And when I enclose an office for myself at the house later this year, She Who Must Be Obeyed has given permission for a LARGE tank... I'm thinking close to 300 gallons for keeping NA Natives in. BTW - ever head over to www.monsterfishkeepers.com ?
        • by afedaken (263115)
          I lurk there from time to time.

          I also keep a pretty healthy bluegill, who gets a pretty steady diet of kitchen scraps. :-)
      • by Verteiron (224042)
        Small-timer here, 29G-H, 20G-L and 10G. Mind you, I'd have more and larger ones if I had room and a floor that wouldn't collapse under the weight...
      • by X86Daddy (446356)
        How to eliminate MTS (and ramshorns, and pond snails, and any algae wafers with a quickness):
        Add one Crawfish*

        *Make sure lid is secure and wire pathways small. They have excellent escape tactics... albiet poor strategy

        2 10g, 1 20L coffee table [instructables.com], 1 1g, and various clear bucket sorts of breeding / quarantine tanks
        • by afedaken (263115)
          The problem is, the crayfish would also quickly eliminate any and all plantlife in my tank.

          http://limitofx.com/ [limitofx.com]

          I keep my tank very heavily planted, so that would be just too sad!
  • by the_kanzure (1100087) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:27PM (#22329480) Homepage
    1) Figure out the genes involved via a bioinformatics database [biodatabase.org].
    2) Order the genes - look up oligonucleotide synthesis companies, or DIY with the open source machine.
    3) Download the biokit [sourceforge.net] for do-it-yourself genetic engineering.
    4) ??? (tanks, supplies, tissue culture, obtaining zebra fish and feed ...) 5) See-through zebra fish.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How can you possibly have a ??? step without a Profit! following it?
    • by gotzero (1177159)
      Until you realize you used the wrong algorithm and the get out of the tank and start walking around your basement...
  • ...now if they can only make us transparent also....
    • Are you crazy!!! Perhaps you need to consider the reason they made these fish transparent and follow it through to conclusion... I believe their plan would look something like the following:

      step 1) make tonyahn transparent
      step 2) GIVE TONYAHN FLURO CANCER
      step 3) ???
      step 4) profit!

      Your death sometime around step 3 is implied
  • When.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:46PM (#22329632) Journal
    When do they breed see-through people, for the human studies?
  • They are? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:03AM (#22329734)

    Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways
    You mean, in the same way that every other vertebrate is, or is there something special about these particular fish?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sonchat (819093)

      Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways
      You mean, in the same way that every other vertebrate is, or is there something special about these particular fish?
      Hucklebee is offended.
    • Re:They are? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:53AM (#22330078)
      Zebrafish, the nematode C. Elegans, and fruitflies have each been model organisms for years for geneticists. It's just easier to hack the underlying biology when all the scientists are focusing on the same exact species.
    • Re:They are? (Score:4, Informative)

      by eli pabst (948845) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @03:08AM (#22330770)
      Not in particular. There are a lot of conserved pathways and genes but not more than any other fish. They're nice because they're a more convenient model organism to use than mice or chimps. You can fit a lot more of them in a tank, they're relatively inexpensive, they have a short generation time, and they're more of less transparent so you can observe internal structures (particularly for developmental bio purposes) and use luminescent/colorimetric techniques with out having to do any dissections. So they do make a good model, in fact one of the genes involved in determining skin color in humans was recently identified using Zebrafish.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5055391 [npr.org]
  • wrong database! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:06AM (#22329762)
    No, you find the gene at http://zfin.org/ [zfin.org]
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:15AM (#22329846)
    For other universities who happen to want to work with these fish, I recommend contacting Zoltán Varga [wikipedia.org]. He's a director at the Zebrafish International Resource Center [zebrafish.org] at the University of Oregon.

    He also has a great family and we had dinner at his house a couple weeks ago, Zoltán making a tasty Thai soup. The best part about visiting is that his wife is French and they're always talking in various languages at the dinner table. For some reason when the dog is bad, they always chastise him in German.
    • Any other personal details you can post on slashdot? Perhaps about their children? lol.

      My favorite part is "..says Richard White, a clinical fellow in the Stem Cell Program.."

      It sounds like they just walked in to the building and saw some guy in a lab coat and thought "Hey, theres a clinical looking fellow! lets ask him what he thinks!"
    • by kongit (758125) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:34AM (#22329944)
      Seeing that he works with fish and speaks many languages I must assume that babelfish are involved in some manner. Additionally the name Zoltán seems suspicious. I suggest you contact the nearest Extra-Terrestrial Human Interrelations office in your district.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      For other universities who happen to want to work with these fish, I recommend contacting Zoltán Varga. He's a director at the Zebrafish International Resource Center at the University of Oregon.
      Any reason we can't crossbreed the fish ourselves?
    • by Cyno01 (573917)
      For some reason when the dog is bad, they always chastise him in German.

      "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse" (attributed to Charles V)
      • by eleuthero (812560)
        Which, given Charles V's original home and upbringing, the horse and God seem to win out.
    • Oops. Misread that the first time by, but I'm sure there's some group out there making plans to rescue all of these zebrafish from the evils of medical research. Then they'll rehabilitate them and release them into the wild where they'll be free and happy.
  • by wildsurf (535389) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:34AM (#22329948) Homepage
    Crystal Sushi
  • I looked at the photo, but I couldn't see the fish.
  • if it doesn't have stripes, can you still call it a zebrafish?... (please don't reply to this unless you want to get all techno-pedantic)
    • Nazi Pendantic mode enganged mine fuehrer!

      Of course It's still a zebra fish, just with a rather nasty mutation. Both It's parents were Zebra fish with no other genetic modification otherwise.

      Think about it, people like siamese twins, albinos and the like are still called humans even thuogh they have some rather glaring differences. I see no reason why these fish wouldn't be called Zebra Fish.

  • by Joebert (946227) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:50AM (#22330066) Homepage

    Zebrafish are genetically similar to humans in many ways and serve as good models for human biology and disease.

    Fuck cancer, I wanna be transparent too !
  • Not just cancer (Score:5, Informative)

    by cvd6262 (180823) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @01:00AM (#22330142)
    Two great things about zebrafish:

    1. You can see all sorts of diseases in them, not just cancer.

    2. They're cheap. A small team at a small lab, like at a State College [brockport.edu] (see Project #4), can do good quality research with them. Even better, several small teams can be researching concurrently.
  • "We don't know why cancer cells decide to move away from their primary site to other parts in the body."

    Why did the cancer cell cross the road? To metastasize.

    [Thank you Nullav [slashdot.org] (and others).]

  • I just read about the transparent frog [pinktentacle.com]. Did Japanese scientists do this one too? I mean, I've known they had a transparency fetish ever since I stumbled on that hentai site but this is ridiculous!
  • Remember seeing them before as novelties in the aquariums of a department store pet department... and was likely 25 years ago.
  • Animal models were great when we didn't realize how the heart worked or what the liver did. They are pretty much worthless nowadays for anything other than producing grants that suck money from worthwhile endeavors into "ooh, look what cool stuff we did now!" pursuits. BTW, I expect to be sleeping for a long while.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Animal models are how you do science to see what genes do.

      In particular, zebrafish are popular for studying developmental biology, because they're clear as embryos and scientists can watch an organism form - in particular, they can mess up some genes and see what effect that has on the fish's development.

      What's great about this clear fish line is that it brings the same see-through-vertebrate benefits to all kinds of other researchers.

      Think of it as a debugging tool. It's a way to get printf stateme
    • You, sir, have absolutely no clue what you're talking about.

      I'm an experimental embryologist. Would you like to volunteer your baby for me to experiment on and section? No? See, that's why animal model are good. We can investigate the causes of diseases like spinal bifida without horrible ethical violations.
  • Won't someone PLEASE think of the... fish?!
  • More to the point... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by entee (1234920)
    The real question to ask here is whether the spreading they observed has anything to do with how human cancers actually work.

    1.) I think it's safe to say noone contracts cancer by getting injected with a tumor
    2.) A melanoma (external skin cancer) would probably never originate inside the abdominal cavity. In other words, by implanting it you have already "metastasized" it.

    and most importantly,

    3.) It's a fish. It's not a human. It's not even a mammal. It's not even warm blooded. In other words, whil
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NorbrookC (674063)

      So, clearly, cancer does not work the same way in humans and mice.

      You're mistaking treatment with mechanisms. It turns out the basic mechanisms in cancer development are similar across species. The complete picture is still not known - which is why the "War on Cancer" turns out to have not produced the "cures" that were expected back in the seventies. Cancer is a generic term, covering a wide range of individual and different diseases. Understanding the biology behind it is what has been a slow, pa

      • by entee (1234920)
        You're right, genetic diversity does matter, and maybe I'm a bit cavalier in saying if a drug doesn't work that means cancer is different. But I disagree that mechanism and treatment are distinct.

        I would say that treatment and mechanism are related. Cancer has been "cured" in mice dozens of times and the reason those cures don't work in humans is not a dosage or a genetic issue. Rather it's that the drugs used while addressing a particular mechanism miss others. For example drugs that work great in mice f
  • Below is the picture of the transparent zebra fish:

    \_______^
      > | | | | | >
    /-------V
  • Glofish are the same species, with a genetic hack to express green, yellow, or red flourescent protien in their muscle tissue. After the initial release of the red ones, which still had the black and silvery pigment expressions, and had bad reviews for being "dim", the company that "makes" them switched their stock to ones that expressed the flourescent protien coupled with these same types of albinism. Glofish purchased now days are very brightly colored as a result of no competing layers of skin pigment
  • Let's hope this one does not create a virus that kills 95% of the human population, right?
  • Talk about being naked in an entirely new kind of way.
  • What's new about this? The Nacre line does not develop pigmentation. People have been using this fish for quite a while. It's a mutation in a different gene?

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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