Transcriptome and methylome of pancreatic NETs with and without ATRX/DAXX mutations

Nickolas Papadopoulos, PhD

Year: 2011
Institution: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Country: United States
State: MD
Award Type: NETRF GRANTS 2005-2017
NET Type: Pancreas
Science Type: Basic


Vitale will develop a new laboratory model of lung NETs using zebrafish embryos to study in real time the development of the blood network that supports these tumors. With an established model, researchers will also test responses to targeted therapies.

What question will the researchers try to answer?

Can zebrafish serve as an accurate, effective, and reliable laboratory model of lung NETs to advance our knowledge of tumor biology and serve as a platform for preclinical drug screening?

Why is this important?

The lack of valid laboratory models is a critical obstacle in developing curative therapies for advanced lung carcinoid tumors. Zebrafish embryos are transparent, allowing the examination of important processes (such as the development of tumor blood vessels) to occur in near real-time. The permeability of zebrafish embryos can also support the testing of several antitumor drugs. For these reasons, Vitale hopes to use zebrafish models as an innovative and fast way to test lung NET treatments.

What will researchers do?

Researchers will study tumor cells’ supply system of nutrients and oxygen using fluorescent dye in translucent zebrafish embryos to understand how lung NETs form, grow and spread. Once the zebrafish model of lung NETs is established, researchers will then run experiments to test new targeted therapies to see their effect on cancer cells.

How might this improve the treatment of NETs?

Laboratory models like this help scientists identify and test cancer treatments quickly and easily in the laboratory. Having a zebrafish model of lung NETs could accelerate the search for effective treatments and even generate information to help doctors personalize care for individuals.

What is the next step?

Vitale will publish complete descriptions of the new methodology to develop this innovative zebrafish model in a peer-reviewed scientific journal so that other scientists all over the world can replicate it.