Combining Zebrafish and CRISPR/Cas9: Toward a More Efficient Drug Discovery Pipeline

This review will focus on the most recent advances on CRISPR/Cas9 implementation in zebrafish and all their potential uses in biomedical research and drug discovery.

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ZeClinics is proud to announce the publication of an excellent review by our colleagues Vincenzo Di Donato , Javier Terriente and Carles Cornet Bartolomé (here seen from left to right). The paper covers the latest breakthroughs in CRISPR/Cas9 technology in combination with the zebrafish model and the impact they have on target validation, phenotypic assessments and drug discovery.

The use of zebrafish larvae in basic and applied research has grown exponentially during the last 20 years. The reasons for this success lay in its specific experimental advantages: on the one hand, the small size, the large number of progeny and the fast life cycle greatly facilitate large-scale approaches while maintaining 3Rs amenability; on the other hand, high genetic and physiological homology with humans and ease of genetic manipulation make zebrafish larvae a highly robust model for understanding human disease.

Together, these advantages allow using zebrafish larvae for performing high-throughput research, both in terms of chemical and genetic phenotypic screenings. Therefore, the zebrafish larva as an animal model is placed between more reductionist in vitro high-throughput screenings and informative but low-throughput preclinical assays using mammals. However, despite its biological advantages and growing translational validation, zebrafish remains scarcely used in current drug discovery pipelines.

In a context in which the pharmaceutical industry is facing a productivity crisis in bringing new drugs to the market, the combined advantages of zebrafish and the CRISPR/Cas9 system, the most powerful technology for genomic editing to date, has the potential to become a valuable tool for streamlining the generation of models mimicking human disease, the validation of novel drug targets and the discovery of new therapeutics. This review will focus on the most recent advances on CRISPR/Cas9 implementation in zebrafish and all their potential uses in biomedical research and drug discovery.


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