The interactions of nanomedicines with biological environments is heavily influenced by their physicochemical properties. Formulation design and optimization are therefore key steps towards successful nanomedicine development. Unfortunately, detailed assessment of nanomedicine formulations, at a macromolecular level, in rodents is severely limited by the restricted imaging possibilities within these animals. Moreover, rodent in vivo studies are time consuming and expensive, limiting the number of formulations that can be practically assessed in any one study. Consequently, screening and optimisation of nanomedicine formulations is most commonly performed in surrogate biological model systems, such as human-derived cell cultures. However, despite the time and cost advantages of classical in vitro models, these artificial systems fail to reflect and mimic the complex biological situation a nanomedicine will encounter in vivo. This has acutely hampered the selection of potentially successful nanomedicines for subsequent rodent in vivo studies. Recently, zebrafish have emerged as a promising in vivo model, within nanomedicine development pipelines, by offering opportunities to quickly screen nanomedicines under in vivo conditions and in a cost-effective manner so as to bridge the current gap between in vitro and rodent studies. In this review, we outline several advantageous features of the zebrafish model, such as biological conservation, imaging modalities, availability of genetic tools and disease models, as well as their various applications in nanomedicine development. Critical experimental parameters are discussed and the most beneficial applications of the zebrafish model, in the context of nanomedicine development, are highlighted.
Keywords: Drug development; Experimental parameters; Formulation optimization; In vivo; Nanomedicine; Nanoparticle; Preclinical screening; Zebrafish.
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