Dr. Langenau's laboratory research is focused on uncovering relapse mechanisms in pediatric cancer.

Zebrafish Avatars of Human Cancer

David Langenau, PhD
David Langenau, PhD
MGH Research Scholar 2017-2022
Associate Investigator, Department of Pathology
Associate Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School

The focus of my laboratory's research is to uncover the mechanisms that drive cancer progression.

Our long-term goal is to identify novel therapies for cancer that is resistant to treatment, has spread from its initial location to other parts of the body, or has resumed after a period of remission.

Using models of cancer in living zebrafish, we are working to test the effectiveness of new drugs by adding a dose of the drugs to the tank water, and then imaging the tumor responses in the live fish.

Remarkably, the same drugs that kill tumor cells in zebrafish are also effective in killing human tumor cells. Building on these successes, our new research initiatives will focus on developing zebrafish that can grow human cancers.

We envision studies where a patient’s tumor is grown in the zebrafish and then these animals are assessed for responses to new and combination therapies. Because we can also test therapies that are in clinical development, we hope our approach will inform clinical decision-making, pairing drugs that effectively kill a patient’s tumor in experimental models with treatment in the clinic.

In total, we believe our work has the potential to revolutionize patient care by rapidly assessing new and combined therapies to treat a wide range of human cancers.