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Oklahoma City cancer researchers get $1 million gift to support efforts using zebrafish

Zebrafish, thousands of them, will soon be part of research conducted in Oklahoma to better understand the genes behind certain types of cancers.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: November 21, 2012
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At first glance, they don't seem like much.

They're just little black and white fish. If they were in an aquarium, they'd probably be overshadowed by the presence of a “Nemo” or other colorful fish.

But zebrafish, thousands of them, in fact, will soon be part of research conducted in Oklahoma to better understand the genes behind certain types of cancers.

A $1 million gift from the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation will support the efforts of Dr. Kimble Frazer and his team at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center to better understand the many intricacies of T-cell cancers.

“Fifty years ago, children with leukemia had a very low chance of survival,” Frazer said. “Today that chance has increased to 80 percent. Even though progress is being made, there are still unmet needs in the treatment of pediatric T-cell cancers.”

Most people likely don't realize the wide use of the fish in scientific research. Frazer and his fellow researchers will work out of a lab with about 12,000 zebrafish.

Like humans, zebrafish possess T-cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight diseases or harmful substances; a thymus, which helps a human's body make a type of white blood cell that protects against infections; and marrow, according to the National Institutes of Health. This makes them good models for studying T-cell cancer.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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