Fresh insights into how Zebrafish repair their damaged nerve connections could aid the development of therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.
Scientists have found the immune system plays a key role in helping Zebrafish nerve cells to regenerate after injury.
The findings offer clues for developing treatments that could one day help people to regain movement after spinal cord injury.
SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) — ABC7 is recognizing a swimmer who is determined to help others after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed.
There are those days that will change your life forever. For Theo St. Francis, it was a Saturday, a sunny afternoon in Boston Harbor. It unfolded quickly on August 24th, almost four years ago.
Healing protein bridges severed tissue in fish
A freshwater zebrafish costs less than two bucks at the pet store, but it can do something priceless: Its spinal cord can heal completely after being severed, a paralyzing and often fatal injury for humans.
While watching these fish repair their own spinal cord injuries, Duke University scientists have found a particular protein important for the process. Their study, published Nov. 4 in the journal Science, could generate new leads into tissue repair in humans.
Researchers have identified a protein in zebrafish that plays a role in helping heal major spinal cord injuries. The results, published in the 4 November issue of Science, could provide an important clue for researchers looking for ways to facilitate similar tissue repair in humans.
While mammals lack the ability to regenerate nervous system tissue after spinal cord injury, zebrafish can regenerate such tissue. The mechanisms behind this recovery have remained elusive.
“Only six to eight weeks after a paralyzing injury that completely severs their spinal cord, zebrafish form new neurons, regrow axons and recover the ability to swim. Importantly, these regenerative events proceed without massive scarring,” explained Mayssa Mokalled of Duke University, a researcher involved in the study.
Scientists studying hatchling fish have made a new advance in studying a chemical in the brain that impacts on movement.
The team from the University of Leicester Department of Biology has examined transparent hatchling zebrafish to gain new insights into the working of neurons in areas of the brain that are normally difficult to access.
With help from the zebrafish, a team of Australian researchers has uncovered how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) renew themselves, considered by many to be the ‘holy grail’ of stem cell research.
HSCs are a significant type of stem cell present in the blood and bone marrow. These are needed for the replenishment of the body’s supply of blood and immune cells. HSCs already play a part in transplants in patients with blood cancers such as leukemia and myeloma. The stem cells are also studied for their potential to transform into vital cells including muscle, bone, and blood vessels.
Yona Goldshmit, Ph.D., is a former physical therapist who worked in rehabilitation centers with spinal cord injury patients for many years before deciding to switch her focus to the underlying science.
“After a few years in the clinic, I realized that we don’t really know what’s going on,” she said.
Now a scientist working with Peter Currie, Ph.D., at Monash University in Australia, Dr. Goldshmit is studying the mechanisms of spinal cord repair in zebrafish, which, unlike humans and other mammals, can regenerate their spinal cord following injury. On June 23 at the 2012 International Zebrafish Development and Genetics Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, she described a protein that may be a key difference between regeneration in fish and mammals.