Also, there seems to be little that differentiates zebrafish T-cell leukemia and human T-cell leukemia.
Not all of the zebrafish will develop cancer. The large quantity of zebrafish is needed at the lab to produce 25 to 50 fish with T-cell cancer every month.
Through their research, Frazer hopes he and his fellow researchers can use the lab to discover genes and mutations in genes that cause or predispose people to T-cell cancer. They could also find genes and mutations in genes that make T-cell cancer worse.
Also, the researchers will test new medicines using the fish. This testing could lead to a better understanding of which fish respond best to which medicines.
The next step would be testing how fish with different genes react to various medicines. This type of research could eventually lead to giving cancer patients the most effective drugs the first time around, rather than trying drug after drug until one works.
“These are things that are going to take decades,” Frazer said. “It's not like we're going to be solving that problem in three to five years. You don't know how to individualize therapy until you know how to stratify patients in the appropriate category.”