Zebrafish could help humans regrow muscle

By | January 16, 2009

Zebrafish could help humans regrow muscle

Imagine a world where humans could regrow damaged muscle tissue, healing themselves – thanks to the zebrafish and new research into that world could be just around the corner.

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) can regrow damaged muscle tissue and researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute want to understand the process to one day have humans doing the same.

Reversing muscle wasting

“This has far-reaching and important potential for human disease,” says lead researcher Peter Currie based at the Monash University in Melbourne. “One example is muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease. We could have much better quality of life by preventing or reversing the process.

“Zebrafish have a very similar development process to humans, but they are better at repairing damaged muscle tissue. We want to use this ability to genetically manipulate muscle cells in humans,” he added.

At only six centimetres long, the colourful fish have a surprising number of similarities to humans. The team is looking to uncover the mechanisms that the fish use in regrowing muscle, and then apply it to human medicine.

By comparing the development process for a genetically normal zebrafish embryo to that of a mutated embryo that can’t regrow muscle, Currie hopes to find exactly what it is that starts the muscle repair.

If researchers can understand what starts muscular regeneration in the zebrafish, they can they work on adapting a similar process to humans. This would have countless medical applications, “Heart attack survivors could also benefit because their damaged heart muscle could regenerate,” says Currie.

via Zebrafish could help humans regrow muscle | COSMOS magazine.

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