With millions of European citizens suffering from chronic pain and neurodegenerative disease, there is an urgent need for efficient solutions for drug screening in animal models. Discovery of new drugs and functions of genes involved in these human diseases relies on efficient ways to screen effects on animal behavior and at low cost. Zebrafish emerged in the last decade as an essential model for drug discovery as it is: i) a low cost genetic model organism whose genome shares 70% homology with human’s. ii) well-suited to fast and high throughput investigation of genes and molecules. iii) an ideal platform to study genes and pathways of relevance to disease in humans. Consequently, several companies are exploiting zebrafish research to devise new drugs for motor and neurological disorders. However, the current state of the art in commercial analysis of zebrafish behavior is limited to the analysis of crude parameters. In these conditions, the fast kinematics indicative of specific types of sensory and motor defects cannot be resolved. A fine kinematic analysis efficiently performed over large population of animals is crucial to reliably quantify defects in strength, posture or speed in mutant animals with and without with drug treatment. This accuracy is critical for concluding on the effects of drugs involved in motor functions, posture or pain. During her ERC starting grant OptoLoco, Dr. Wyart has developed ZebraZoom to resolve kinematic data with the necessary degree of resolution required for interpretation of motor defects. This approach enables the quantitative measurement of defects in speed, posture, and movement strength. In the ZebraZoom PoC, we will evaluate the market potential for a high-throughput method to quantify and categorise behavioural movements of zebrafish larvae/juveniles in response to drug administration and genetic manipulations and elaborate a marketing plan and business plan targeting for pharmaceutical companies and research labs.
Fields of science
Funding SchemeERC-POC - Proof of Concept Grant