What is it about?

Drugs used to treat cancers are frequently found as contaminants in water bodies. This is an emerging concern as they can harm aquatic life. Cyclophosphamide (CP) is a drug widely used to treat cancer, and nearly 20% remains in the body without being processed. Moreover, sewage treatment plants cannot remove drugs like CP. As a result, they can affect unintended targets when the wastewater is released. Experts are studying how these compounds affect aquatic species. For this, they studied CP's effect on zebrafish. Their aim is to find ways to monitor and understand the health effects of these drugs.

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Why is it important?

The authors used a step-by-step method to understand how CP affects aquatic organisms. They monitored how CP affected specific proteins called biomarkers. Then, they checked how CP influenced the liver and gills. These are important parts of the body for metabolism in aquatic animals. After exposing zebrafish to environmentally relevant CP concentrations for 42 days, notable changes were observed. Exposure to higher levels of CP caused oxidative damage, increased inflammation, and damaged cells in the gills and liver. It also greatly changed the levels of biomarkers. The changes seen in the biomarkers mirrored the damage seen in the tissues. Further, the tissue damage depended on the CP level and the duration of CP exposure. This showed that the chosen biomarkers could be used as early indicators of the damage caused by drugs like CP. KEY TAKEAWAY: The toxicity of CP and its effects on the chosen biomarkers are in line with what is known about how CP affects mammals. This paper's findings can be applied to improve risk assessments and water quality monitoring for other emerging water contaminants. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation • SDG 14: Life Below Water • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being • SDG 15 – Life On Land

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This page is a summary of: A study to assess the health effects of an anticancer drug (cyclophosphamide) in zebrafish (Danio rerio): eco-toxicity of emerging contaminants, Environmental Science Processes & Impacts, January 2023, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/d2em00527a.
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