Determination of levels of toxicity and eco-toxicity using zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio)

Summary of the technology offered

A group of researchers from the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Development has experience in performing in vivo assays for acute toxicity (Tox-Ag). The offered method is rapid, simple, highly sensitive, reproducible and standardized internationally, and is useful for evaluating acute toxicity of synthetic or natural extracts and natural or industrial origin drugs. The assay utilizes the animal vertebrate of embryo zebrafish (Danio rerio).

The same research group has experience in conducting in vivo eco-toxicity testing (Eco-Tox) to assess toxicity of effluents and waste and/or industrial water. This assay allows the determination of the interaction, synergistic or antagonistic, of chemical and physical components that make up the samples to be analyzed by applying an in vivo toxicity assay using zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio).

Brief description of the technology offered

In the assays, 96-well plates are used to obtain the toxicological data of a drug in solution or a liquid sample to be tested using a minimum volume. For each drug to be analyzed a population of embryos is divided into 5 groups of 16 embryos and each group is subjected to treatment with solutions of different concentrations of the drug or mixture to be analyzed, whereas a group of 16 embryos is subjected to control conditions. Embryonic development of the embryos is followed under a dissecting microscope and set parameters established as indicators of survival or death and are recorded in a form designed for this purpose. The generated data are analyzed with the software DEBtox, which allows obtaining different parameters for evaluating toxicity based on the relationship between the concentration of the chemical compound tested and the toxic effect. This makes it possible to determine, within 48 hours, the value of lethal dose 50 % (LC50) and its confidence interval.

Application domain

  • Health.
  • Pharmaceutical and Food Industry.
  • Renovation of rivers and lakes.
  • Control in the use of pesticides and herbicides, etc.
  • Fish farming industry.
  • Water quality certification.
  • Evaluation of the environmental impact generated by discharge of waste and/or industrial effluents.
  • Sustainable management of natural resources.
  • Tourism generated around rivers and lakes.


  • Toxicity test detects toxic effects. Pure compounds, mixtures of compounds or complex samples of natural origin can be tested. Furthermore, this assay allows the analysis of the potential compound as a candidate for the development of antitumor drugs.
  • The assays are rapid, sensitive, reproducible and internationally standardized methods.
  • The tests are essential tools for the advice of government agencies that require evaluating the quality of industrial effluents.

State of development

  • Tested in the laboratory.
  • Available for demonstration.

State of intellectual property

Secret know-how.

Details of potential operating or partnership agreements

  • Technical cooperation.
  • Technical assistance to companies that require the control of their effluent.
  • Technical advice to government institutions responsible for establishing environmental policies and its conservation.


Dr. Nora Calcaterra.