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Biotechnol Lett. 2009 Feb;31(2):171-9. doi: 10.1007/s10529-008-9868-1. Epub 2008 Oct 19.

Significance of the zebrafish model in the discovery of bioactive molecules from nature.

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Marine Biotechnology Group, Piramal Life Sciences Limited, 1 Nirlon Complex, Off Western Express Highway, Goregaon (East), Mumbai, 400 063, India.


Natural products have immense therapeutic potential not only due to their structural variation and complexity but also due to their range of biological activities. Research based on natural products has led to the discovery of molecules with biomedical and pharmaceutical applications in different therapeutic areas like cancer, inflammation responses, diabetes, and infectious diseases. There are still several challenges to be overcome in natural product drug discovery research programs and the challenge of high throughput screening of natural substances is one of them. Bioactivity screening is an integral part of the drug discovery process and several in vitro and in vivo biological models are now available for this purpose. Among other well-reported biological models, the zebrafish (Danio rerio) is emerging as an important in vivo model for preclinical studies of synthetic molecules in different therapeutic areas. Zebrafish embryos have a short reproductive cycle, show ease of maintenance at high densities in the laboratory and administration of drugs is a straightforward procedure. The embryos are optically transparent, allowing for the visualization of drug effects on internal organs during the embryogenesis process. In this review, we illustrate the importance of using zebrafish as an important biological model in the discovery of bioactive drugs from natural sources.

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