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Fishing for a cure

Van Andel Institute studying zebra fish as possible cure for leukemia

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Is it possible the cure for cancer could be found in a common pet fish swimming in your child's aquarium?  Turns out the Zebra Fish may hold the secret to curing leukemia.

Zebra Fish are currently being studied at the Van Andel Institute because their stem cells reproduce much like humans.

Dr. Stephanie Grainger is heading up the research, "So if we learn how zebrafish make their blood stem cells, zebrafish use the same genetic mechanisms that humans use to make their blood stem cells. So we can translate those findings from the fish to the dish to be able to replicate blood stem cell development for humans, and then put those stem cells into the humans and cure their leukemia."

Dr. Grainger says in an ideal world they would be able to create a bank of blood stem cells that can be personalized for each persons specific leukemia, "We would use our knowledge that we gained from the zebrafish to be able to translate those findings and those genetic cues that we need to make blood stem cells to turn those naïve stem cells into blood stem cells in the dish. And then we could just grow as many as we need."

If this research sounds interesting you can learn more about it Thursday, May19th during the Van Andel Institute's lecture series "From Fish to Dish: How a little fish can help cure cancer". 

You'll need to register for the event.

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