Researchers are studying zebrafish to determine which genes are involved in regeneration. If these genes can be found and expressed in humans, a damaged heart could essentially heal itself, speeding recovery from heart attacks and perhaps preventing heart failure.
MS researchers genetically screen zebrafish to uncover neuron receptors and have successfully found a receptor that can instruct certain cells to remake myelin. Since zebrafish are about 70% similar to humans in their protein-coding genes, scientists look for genes in the zebrafish genome that control the rebuilding of the myelin sheath and are optimistic about finding a cure to MS.
An abnormal heart in her newborn, a devastating flaw,
one that this mother blames herself for.
Although the cause is unclear, she still cries,
and unaware of her own genetic code.
These vital genes, construct the heart;
the most important organ to life.
Distorted valves and chambers affected by Congenital Heart Disease,
lead to an unpromising future.
Using swordtail-platyfish hybrids, scientists found a proto-oncogene – a normal gene that causes cancer when turned on – that causes spontaneous melanoma formation in these fish. This gene, XMRK, resides on the sex chromosome and allows melanoma to be inherited. The importance of studying XMRK in swordtail-platyfish models is the universal commonalities among proto-oncogenes in different organisms, meaning a similar gene with similar inheritance patterns could very well be what causes melanoma in humans.
The zebrafish model is crucial to gene discovery, allowing scientists to uncover important clues about the function of candidate genes. Because they reproduce rapidly and have very high reproduction rates, researchers have access to multiple generations and a large number of fish. Additionally, exceptional tools exist for genetic manipulation of zebrafish, making them ideal for developing gene therapies and holds much hope for future CHD research.
Cancers involve out-of-control cell growth. Scientists believe that the zebrafish may hold the key to gaining a better understanding of how cancer moves and changes, which could provide insight into how to create better treatments. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a transparent mutant zebrafish commonly known as the “Casper” zebrafish that allows scientists to watch cancers develop in adult fish.