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Alternative Anti-Cancer Therapy Using Transgenic Zebrafish

Alternative Anti-Cancer Therapy:

An Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) faculty from the Department of Science & Technology (DST) is working on an Alternative Anti-Cancer Therapy (Anti-Angiogenic) using transgenic zebrafish.

  • INSPIRE is an innovative program sponsored and managed by the DST for the attraction of talent to Science and was launched in 2008.
  • The objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age, and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.


  • It is the physiological process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels.
  • It is critical in the growth of cancer because tumors need blood supply to grow. Tumors trigger the growth of blood cells by giving off chemical signals that stimulate angiogenesis.
  • Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis has become a popular anti-cancer strategy after chemotherapy.
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors are unique cancer-fighting agents because they block the growth of blood vessels that support tumor growth rather than blocking the growth of tumor cells themselves.

Limitation of Anti-Angiogenic Drugs:

  • The clinically approved anti-angiogenic drugs are ineffective due to parallel activation of various compensatory mechanisms involving a cascade of molecules, which aids tumor angiogenesis and investigation of these mechanisms are essential for developing anti-angiogenic therapies.

Alternative Anti-Cancer Therapy:

  • Scientists are exploring an alternative anti-cancer therapy that involves targeting tumor generated formation of new blood vessels which allows the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues.
  • An INSPIRE faculty is exploring the role of compensatory mechanisms signaling cues as key targets for cancer therapy.
  • He has also found that nitric oxide (NO) plays a key role in switching off angiogenesis under tumor microenvironment and that the melatonin hormone suppresses tumor angiogenesis.
  • The research has shown that compensatory mechanisms could be a potential therapeutic target for developing effective anti-cancer treatment regimes.

Transgenic Zebrafish Platform (TZP):

  • The INSPIRE faculty is further working to develop transgenic zebrafish (which have exogenous genes added to their genome) model by use of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool to study the compensatory angiogenesis mechanism in tumor microenvironment.

Reason for Using Zebrafish Model:

  • It has been selected for the study because of its rapid development, optically transparent, high yield in offspring, and easy techniques for forward and reverse gene manipulation.