Clue to slowing liver cancer lies in zebrafish: NUS scientists

Fish with key protein switched on live longer

NUS scientists Chew Ti Weng (left) and Low Boon Chuan have found that switching on the Rho protein slows the growth of liver tumours by up to 30 per cent. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SCIENTISTS studying tiny zebrafish have uncovered a way to slow the growth of liver tumours by up to 30 per cent, simply by "switching on" a key protein called Rho.

Findings by the National University of Singapore's Mechanobiology Institute could potentially "buy time" for sufferers to receive treatment for the cancer, which many patients succumb to within months of diagnosis.

Zebrafish with Rho activated survived up to twice as long as those without.

The finding could help to improve the initial prognosis for humans - who also have Rho proteins, said researcher Low Boon Chuan, who led the five-year, $1 million study.