Prospects for the Xenopus Embryo Model in Therapeutics Technologies


  • André W. Brändli



Angiogenesis, Drug discovery, Genomics, Kidney organogenesis, Xenopus


Access to suitable animal models is essential in the field of therapeutics technologies. Recently, lower vertebrates have emerged as attractive low-cost animal models which offer new exciting applications in functional genomics and therapeutics technologies. Amphibian embryos of the genus Xenopus have long served as important models for the study of vertebrate development. Xenopus is evolutionary significantly less distant to humans than fish models, which suggests that experimental findings gained with Xenopus will more accurately predict human biology. Numerous experimental advantages, including external development, large size, identifiable blastomeres, and their ability to withstand extensive surgical intervention and culture in vitro, have favored the use of the Xenopus model in the past. More recently, the introduction of a simple efficient method to disrupt gene functions and the rapid development of genomic resources has further increased the attractiveness of this low-cost, high-throughput model for the analysis of vertebrate gene functions. Using the Xenopus embryo as the primary animal model, our research in the field of therapeutics technologies has focused on the identification and validation of novel drug targets by employing genomic and transcriptomic information in the analysis of the molecular and cellular processes underlying kidney organogenesis and vascular development. Furthermore, our research on signaling pathways controlling cellular differentiation of embryonic tissues provides important insights that may ultimately lead to the development of novel cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine. Finally, we are exploring the possibility of employing the Xenopus embryos in chemical library screens to identify novel chemical modulators of organogenesis.




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