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.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America; over 5 million people are living with the disease. Neurodegenerative diseases are a growing problem in today’s world; as more people are living longer, these diseases are becoming more prevalent. Now more than ever, research in this area needs to be done. This is why the study conducted by Anotaux and her fellow researchers is so vital. If neurodegeneration can be better understood using European House Spiders as model organisms, we will be that much closer to developing new, better, more affordable treatments for these diseases.
Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that doesn’t occur in the wild- only in humans. Scientists have recently found that neuroblastoma is caused by a mutation in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, also have the ALK gene and may be able to serve as animal models for this rare disease.
Not only is the Arabian horse a non-rodent, large animal that can be used to enhance our understanding of the hematopoietic system, but its susceptibility to SCID and its long life span also make it optimal for SCID research. Since adverse events (such as the development of leukemia) can unfortunately arise in bone marrow treatment for SCID, this non-traditional research model can be used to test the efficacy and safety of alternative therapies, like gene therapy and stem cell transplantation, before being clinically implemented in humans.