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Julia Spear (University of Notre Dame)


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Visualizing Engrafted Human Cancer and Therapy Responses in Immunodeficient Zebrafish  

Abstract:  Xenograft cell transplantation into immunodeficient mice has become the gold standard for assessing pre-clinical efficacy of cancer drugs, yet direct visualization of single-cell phenotypes is difficult. Here, we report an optically-clear prkdc-/-, il2rga-/- zebrafish that lacks adaptive and natural killer immune cells, can engraft a wide array of human cancers at 37 °C, and permits the dynamic visualization of single engrafted cells. For example, photoconversion cell lineage tracing identified migratory and proliferative cell states in human rhabdomyosarcoma, a pediatric cancer of muscle. Additional experiments identified the preclinical efficacy of combination olaparib PARP inhibitor and temozolomide DNA-damaging agent as an effective therapy for rhabdomyosarcoma and visualized therapeutic responses using a four color FUCCI cell-cycle fluorescent reporter. These experiments identified that combination treatment arrested rhabdomyosarcoma cells in the G2 cell cycle prior to induction of apoptosis. Finally, patient-derived xenografts could be engrafted into our model, opening new avenues for developing personalized therapeutic approaches in the future.


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