Tiny fish may hold key to blood cancer treatment

4 April 2016 -

Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand have invested over $1 million to establish the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer Research Unit at Auckland University.

The unit has attracted 18 scientists from across the world conducting ground-breaking research into blood cancer.

The researchers hope that by mapping their DNA they will be able to pinpoint which genes are causing different types of the disease to grow in humans, paving the way for personalised drugs to treat them.

A new trial using Zebra fish aims to help unlock the genetic key to blood cancers like leukaemia.

The genetic make-up of the fish is 84 per cent the same as humans and the fact they reproduce very quickly and are see-through means researchers can genetically-engineer them to replicate and mimic cancer cell growth in humans.

Professor Peter Browett says genetic information will be gathered from newly diagnosed patients and affected cells will be injected into the fish to see if they develop a leukaemia and also to see if other genes are involved.

The unit also utilises New Zealand’s first genome mapping machine which has the power and technology to look at a whole panel of genes.

LBC’s chief executive Pru Etcheverry says:

“This new research is hugely exciting as we are entering the era of precision medicine which sees medicines matched to patients’ individual genetic characteristics.”

For more information on the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer Research Unit please view this story on One News.