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Drug Screening to Treat Early-Onset Eye Diseases: Can Zebrafish Expedite the Discovery?

Zhang, Liyun MD, PhD*; Chong, Leelyn MS*; Cho, Jin*; Liao, Pin-Chao*; Shen, Feichen*; Leung, Yuk Fai PhD*†

The Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology: November/December 2012 - Volume 1 - Issue 6 - p 374–383
doi: 10.1097/APO.0b013e31827a9969
Laboratory Science
Editor's Choice

The molecular basis of many early-onset eye diseases has been uncovered, but the number of available drug treatments for improving deteriorated vision is still scarce. Consequently, there is a high demand for new drugs to treat these diseases. This review first provides a brief synopsis of the use of zebrafish model for screening drugs with vision benefits. In particular, visual-motor response, the activity response of larvae to a change in light stimuli, is proposed to serve as a simple and efficient tool for screening drugs that may improve vision in various zebrafish visual mutants. The second part of the review discusses the identification of novel drug candidates, with particular emphasis on naturally derived chemicals including traditional Chinese medicines and nutritional therapies on retinal degenerative diseases. Many of these chemicals have been used in neuroprotection and/or have been consumed by many populations for good health and vision; thus, the screening of these chemicals with various zebrafish visual mutants would expedite the development of novel drugs for treating early-onset eye diseases.

From the *Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University; and †Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine Lafayette, West Lafayette, IN.

Received for publication October 11, 2012; accepted October 23, 2012.

Supported by a Pediatric Ophthalmology Research Grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and a Charles D. Kelman, M.D. Scholar award from the International Retinal Research Foundation to L.Z., and awards from Hope for Vision & Showalter Research Trust to Y.F.L.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.

Authors Liyun Zhang and Leelyn Chong contributed equally to this work.

Reprints: Yuk Fai Leung, PhD, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, LILY 2-236, 915 W State St, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail:

© 2012Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology
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