From: Dalhousie University
Published June 30, 2017 08:23 AM

Earning their stripes

Corey Filiaggi is describing the busy and collegial environment at the Berman Zebrafish Laboratory, where she’s spent the past three years working towards a master’s degree in Pathology. And it’s true that, only hours after a midnight return from the North Atlantic Zebrafish Research Symposium in Maine, the motley mix of undergraduate and graduate students and lab technicians milling about give off the vibe of a very science-focused village.

As Corey explains, just about every member of the laboratory is working on his or her own project. Corey herself is exploring the genetics of cancer, specifically childhood leukemia, by inserting human genes into zebrafish embryos.

“My master’s project is that I made a transgenic fish – which means I put a human gene into the fish,” says Corey. “The gene that we chose is a cancer gene that’s known to cause high-risk childhood leukemia.”

Because leukemia is a blood cancer, we wanted to put this gene into the fish to see how it affects blood development in the fish. The zebrafish is no different than a human in how their blood development is regulated and we can tag the human cancer gene with a fluorescent protein, so I can look at the fish and see that wherever it has green fluorescence, that’s where the cancer gene is being expressed. That allows us to do a lot of analysis on what happens to cells expressing the cancer gene and why.”


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Photo via Dalhousie University.

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