The NIH has ranked it as the third most important experimental organism after man (www.nih.gov/science/models/zebrafish/), the Sanger Centre is sequencing the genome (www.sanger.ac.uk/Projects/D_rerio/) and many medical researchers are shifting over to it. But will the zebrafish have a role in drug discovery? Will it suffer with the same issues which have beset the invertebrate model organisms? This article explores why, used appropriately, this need not be the case and how zebrafish may add value to particular steps of the drug discovery chain.
Safety pharmacology has become an integral part of non-clinical safety assessment for new chemical entities in the past two decades1.The relative novelty of this discipline has granted it the flexibility to incorporate new experimental tools2.Telemetry has, for example, helped address the reduction of invasive methods in test animals and modern electrophysiological techniques have improved the assessment of cardiac safety 1.