» Go to news main

How zebrafish are changing the way doctors treat Maritime children with cancer

Posted by Carolyn Ray on September 20, 2018 in News

Inside a lab at Dalhousie Medical School, 12,000 zebrafish swim in tanks that line the room from floor to ceiling.

It looks like a pet store or an aquarium, but these guppy-sized fish have an important connection to children being treated across the street at the IWK Health Centre: they share the same cancers.

"That may seem a little science fiction," says Dr. Jason Berman, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at the Halifax hospital. "Remarkably, these little fish are genetically very similar to humans.

"And that's really important when we're studying cancer, because cancer is really a genetic disease."