• Anticancer drug screening from images of zebrafish embryogenesis
  • Campana, Matteo <1979>


  • ING-INF/06 Bioingegneria elettronica e informatica


  • During the previous 10 years, global R&D expenditure in the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sector has steadily increased, without a corresponding increase in output of new medicines. To address this situation, the biopharmaceutical industry's greatest need is to predict the failures at the earliest possible stage of the drug development process. A major key to reducing failures in drug screenings is the development and use of preclinical models that are more predictive of efficacy and safety in clinical trials. Further, relevant animal models are needed to allow a wider testing of novel hypotheses. Key to this is the developing, refining, and validating of complex animal models that directly link therapeutic targets to the phenotype of disease, allowing earlier prediction of human response to medicines and identification of safety biomarkers. Morehover, well-designed animal studies are essential to bridge the gap between test in cell cultures and people. Zebrafish is emerging, complementary to other models, as a powerful system for cancer studies and drugs discovery. We aim to investigate this research area designing a new preclinical cancer model based on the in vivo imaging of zebrafish embryogenesis. Technological advances in imaging have made it feasible to acquire nondestructive in vivo images of fluorescently labeled structures, such as cell nuclei and membranes, throughout early Zebrafishsh embryogenesis. This In vivo image-based investigation provides measurements for a large number of features at cellular level and events including nuclei movements, cells counting, and mitosis detection, thereby enabling the estimation of more significant parameters such as proliferation rate, highly relevant for investigating anticancer drug effects. In this work, we designed a standardized procedure for accessing drug activity at the cellular level in live zebrafish embryos. The procedure includes methodologies and tools that combine imaging and fully automated measurements of embryonic cell proliferation rate. We achieved proliferation rate estimation through the automatic classification and density measurement of epithelial enveloping layer and deep layer cells. Automatic embryonic cells classification provides the bases to measure the variability of relevant parameters, such as cell density, in different classes of cells and is finalized to the estimation of efficacy and selectivity of anticancer drugs. Through these methodologies we were able to evaluate and to measure in vivo the therapeutic potential and overall toxicity of Dbait and Irinotecan anticancer molecules. Results achieved on these anticancer molecules are presented and discussed; furthermore, extensive accuracy measurements are provided to investigate the robustness of the proposed procedure. Altogether, these observations indicate that zebrafish embryo can be a useful and cost-effective alternative to some mammalian models for the preclinical test of anticancer drugs and it might also provides, in the near future, opportunities to accelerate the process of drug discovery.


  • 2010-04-23


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Campana, Matteo (2010) Anticancer drug screening from images of zebrafish embryogenesis, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Bioingegneria , 22 Ciclo.