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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan;155(1):169-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Aquatic models, genomics and chemical risk management.

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Jake Gittlen Cancer Research Foundation and Division of Experimental Pathology, Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


The 5th Aquatic Animal Models for Human Disease meeting follows four previous meetings (Nairn et al., 2001; Schmale, 2004; Schmale et al., 2007; Hinton et al., 2009) in which advances in aquatic animal models for human disease research were reported, and community discussion of future direction was pursued. At this meeting, discussion at a workshop entitled Bioinformatics and Computational Biology with Web-based Resources (20 September 2010) led to an important conclusion: Aquatic model research using feral and experimental fish, in combination with web-based access to annotated anatomical atlases and toxicological databases, yields data that advance our understanding of human gene function, and can be used to facilitate environmental management and drug development. We propose here that the effects of genes and environment are best appreciated within an anatomical context - the specifically affected cells and organs in the whole animal. We envision the use of automated, whole-animal imaging at cellular resolution and computational morphometry facilitated by high-performance computing and automated entry into toxicological databases, as anchors for genetic and toxicological data, and as connectors between human and model system data. These principles should be applied to both laboratory and feral fish populations, which have been virtually irreplaceable sentinals for environmental contamination that results in human morbidity and mortality. We conclude that automation, database generation, and web-based accessibility, facilitated by genomic/transcriptomic data and high-performance and cloud computing, will potentiate the unique and potentially key roles that aquatic models play in advancing systems biology, drug development, and environmental risk management.

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