The Power of Zebrafish in Personalised Medicine

  • Sarah BaxendaleEmail author
  • Freek van Eeden
  • Robert Wilkinson
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1007)


The goal of personalised medicine is to develop tailor-made therapies for patients in whom currently available therapeutics fail. This approach requires correlating individual patient genotype data to specific disease phenotype data and using these stratified data sets to identify bespoke therapeutics. Applications for personalised medicine include common complex diseases which may have multiple targets, as well as rare monogenic disorders, for which the target may be unknown. In both cases, whole genome sequence analysis (WGS) is discovering large numbers of disease associated mutations in new candidate genes and potential modifier genes. Currently, the main limiting factor is the determination of which mutated genes are important for disease progression and therefore represent potential targets for drug discovery. Zebrafish have gained popularity as a model organism for understanding developmental processes, disease mechanisms and more recently for drug discovery and toxicity testing. In this chapter, we will examine the diverse roles that zebrafish can make in the expanding field of personalised medicine, from generating humanised disease models to xenograft screening of different cancer cell lines, through to finding new drugs via in vivo phenotypic screens. We will discuss the tools available for zebrafish research and recent advances in techniques, highlighting the advantages and potential of using zebrafish for high throughput disease modeling and precision drug discovery.


Zebrafish Personalised medicine CRISPR Xenograft Chemical screen Cancer Neurological disorder Transgenic 



We thank Vincent Cunliffe for comments on the manuscript. SB is funded by a grant from the BBSRC (BB/M01021X/1) and FvE was funded by BBSRC (BB/M02332X/1). The Sheffield zebrafish aquarium and small molecule screening facilities are supported by grants from the MRC (G0700091, G0802527).


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Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Baxendale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Freek van Eeden
    • 1
  • Robert Wilkinson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Bateson Centre, Department of Biomedical ScienceUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, Medical School, Beech Hill RdUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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