The researchers said their findings, which combine the tools of medicinal chemistry and zebrafish biology, support using zebrafish as a platform for drug development.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center research team led by Dr. Charles Hong, an assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology, previously described using fish embryos to screen for compounds that interfere with signaling pathways involved in early development -- pathways known to play roles in a variety of disease processes.
They discovered the compound "dorsomorphin" and demonstrated it blocked bone morphogenetic protein signaling, which has been implicated in anemia, inflammatory responses and bone-related disorders.
In the new study, the scientists said they found dorsomorphin had other "off-target" effects -- it also blocked the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor and disrupted zebrafish blood vessel development, a process called angiogenesis.
"We quickly discovered that the two effects of dorsomorphin could be separated -- some analogs only affected patterning and some only affected angiogenesis," Hong said.
The findings are detailed in the journal Chemical Biology.
Ohio crash that killed two caught on camera [VIDEO]
Wisconsin business offering 'therapeutic cuddling' forced to close