Why Zebrafish Genetics Are Ideal for Studying Human Disease

Science, in conjunction with research and development, has helped to provide the world with many medicines. As science continues to advance so must the way in which research and development are conducted in order to bring the best possible medicines and treatments to the population. Modern research has provided some truly mind-blowing resources available to us for research purposes. One such research tool available for drug discovery and development is the wonderful organisms known as Zebrafish.

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Zebrafish are an especially useful tool when it comes to medical research due to their incredible similarities to humans. In particular zebrafish genetics are quite similar to that of their human counterparts. Moreover, zebrafish have a uniquely similar genetic structure to that of human beings. Zebrafish share more than seventy percent of their genes with humans. In addition, in terms of zebrafish genetics, eighty-four percent of human genes known to be associated with human diseases have a complement in zebrafish. 

For this reason, the majority of disease-causing genes can be replicated using zebrafish models. This makes Zebrafish an excellent research tool as it pertains to studying many diseases that affect humans. Furthermore, Zebrafish make for an outstanding research model as the genome of these organisms has been sequenced to an extremely high quality. 

It is important to note that mice and humans are a closer genetic match at approximately eighty-five percent. However, mice are very different from zebrafish for various reasons. Nevertheless, according to various scientists, zebrafish are helping to provide a fresh perspective on medical research as it pertains to human beings. Unlike mice, zebrafish are quite inexpensive to maintain. Furthermore, zebrafish produce hundreds of offspring weekly resulting in an ample supply for research purposes. Zebrafish develop at an extremely fast rate as well. In addition, zebrafish have the unique ability to be able to regenerate their heart muscle. Scientists have been studying this particular trait in order to determine if there are factors that could potentially be applied to humans.

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Traits of Zebrafish

In addition to Zebrafish genetics, these organisms have many other traits and characteristics that are very similar to humans. Zebrafish have two eyes as well as a mouth, brain, spinal cord, intestine, pancreas, heart, ear, muscle, brain, kidney, esophagus, blood, bone, cartilage, and teeth. This is extremely beneficial since many of the genes and organic pathways that are required to grow and maintain these distinctive features are uniquely conserved between zebrafish and humans. For this very reason, almost any disease, that could cause a change within the organ of a human, can be replicated with the utilization of zebrafish. Moreover, due to all the innovations in genetics, with Zinc Fingers technologies to gene editing, zebrafish offers the characteristics to be used with them for more efficient and accurate gene editing. Crispr-Cas technology facilitates generating mutants and transgenics for disease modeling to learn from several diseases and be able to apply it in the discovery of new treatments.

As we have seen, Zebrafish have many ideal characteristics and various benefits that can help advance medical research, especially in the study of diseases that impact humanity. Not only do zebrafish have a similar genetic structure to humans, but they also have many physical features that are similar to humans as well. Zebrafish offer an ideal research model when it comes to the development of medicines and therapies that can be developed to benefit humanity. By using zebrafish in medical studies and research, scientists are sure to continue the outstanding innovations in medicine.  

Reference:

  1. PennState ‘Zebrafish help researcher study human disease’ date accessed on 9/27/2022:https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/zebrafish-help-researchers-study-human-genes/
  2. Intramural Research Program,‘Why use Zebrafish to study Human Diseases’ date accessed on 8/25/2022: https://irp.nih.gov/blog/post/2016/08/why-use-zebrafish-to-study-human-diseases
  3. Biobide, ‘Zebrafish Genome Compared to Human : How Are They Similar’ date accessed on 9/27/2022 https://blog.biobide.com/zebrafish-genome-compared-to-human-how-are-they-similar
  4. John Hopkins Medicine, ‘Zebrafish help Unlock Clues To Human Disease ’ date accessed on 9/27/2022 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/zebrafish-help-unlock-clues-to-human-disease
  5. YG Topics, ‘Why Use Zebrafish In Research date accessed on 9/27/2022 https://www.yourgenome.org/facts/why-use-the-zebrafish-in-research/#:~:text=The%20zebrafish%20is%20about%202.5,a%20pink%20or%20yellow%20tinge.
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