Phylonix awarded National Science Foundation Phase II SBIR for zebrafish screening

To assess industrial chemicals for effects on developmental toxicity

Cambridge, MA December 12, 2006 Phylonix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced it has received a $500,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Grant (SBIR) from the National Science Foundation to assess potential toxic effects of chemicals on the development of human organs and tissues using a panel of assays performed in zebrafish.

"This award validates the importance of zebrafish as a predictive model for assessing toxic effects of environmental contaminants on mammalian development," commented Patricia McGrath, Phylonix President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our preliminary data show a striking correlation between results in zebrafish and results in mammals."

All essential components of vertebrate form and organ development are mimicked in the transparent zebrafish and their molecular basis is either identical or similar, underscoring the potential for use in research on human developmental toxicity. "Using our comprehensive ZETAXTM panel of assays, effects on morphology, organ development, neurons and cell death can easily be assessed in the transparent animal. Compounds are added directly to the fish water and results are assessed in 4 to 7 days. Endpoints can be quantitated using comparatively high through-put scanning image analysis or microplate formats," McGrath continued.

Currently, 85,000 industrial chemicals are manufactured each year in the United States and 2,000 to 3,000 new chemicals are registered for production. However, there is little or no toxicity data for more than 70% of these chemicals. The lack of efficient in vivo screening assays contributes to the lack of knowledge about short and long-term chemical effects on development. Pesticides are of particular concern, since they are designed to be toxic to insects and they can have deleterious effects on other species.

Historically, zebrafish have been used in a variety of applications to assess environmental toxicity, including directly monitoring water, soil and wastewater quality for ecotoxicity studies. However, a systematic analysis of effects in vivo in this model organism has not been performed.


About Phylonix

Phylonix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( is a Contract Research Organization developing and marketing novel in vivo zebrafish-based assays, eZ-ScreensTM, for assessing chemical and drug effects on developmental defects, cancers, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, apoptosis, and organ toxicity. The company's business strategy is to leverage the speed and cost-effectiveness of the zebrafish model to provide services for industrial and biopharmaceutical companies. For information on screening services and assay licensing options contact Edward O'Lear, Vice President of Finance and Business Development at [email protected] or 617-441-6700 ext 302.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
    Published on All rights reserved.