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Patricia Letrado presents her Scientific Poster “Zebrafish xenografts as an in vivo tool for Cancer research”

The PhD student Patricia Letrado has defended her Scientific Poster about the use of the in vivo model of zebrafish in two day embryos as a tool for cancer research in the “XII Research Day in Experimental Sciences and Health organized by the University of Navarre.”

A major difficulty encountered in the effective treatment of cancer is the complexity of the biological mechanism underlying the onset of cancer and the progression of the disease. This is because the genetic composition and metabolic profile of each individual patient influence the effect of anticancer drugs.Therefore, each patient responds differently to the same therapy. This was the reason that encouraged Patricia to perform her doctoral thesis.

Patricia began her thesis in January 2017 and much of her doctorate has been developed at the facilities of Ikan Biotech in collaboration with CIMA (Center for Applied Medical Research) under the supervision of hers thesis directors, Roberto Díez and Julen Oyarzábal. Ikan Biotech is undertaking a H2020 grant, “Zebrafish avatar as a real-time in vivo platform for Personalized Cancer Therapeutics” which has common areas with Patricia’s research as it is also investigates how using zebrafish can generate avatars that allow personalizing the treatment of patients.

The biologist’s strategy has been to carry out transplants of human tumor cells previously stained with fluorescence in zebrafish embryos two days old to later 

monitor various tumor processes. This approach allows to test numerous compounds to know their effect against cancer, being able to identify or test new drugs in an in vivo model.

The challenge now is to “Automate the process to reduce time” acknowledged Patricia. As the poster suggests, xenotransplantation is a complex technique that requires optimizing numerous variables  that change from one tumor cell to another. Each cell line behaves differently when transplanted in fish and even tumor cells of the same type of cancer require different conditions, Just like patients with the same type of cancer react the same way to chemotherapy.

Once the technique has been optimized the next step is to start testing the compounds to identify antitumor effect in colon cancer and reporting of current available antitumoral treatments. Thereafter, the search will be extended to new types of cancer.

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