09 Mar Unlocking the Regenerative Potential of Zebrafish for the Treatment of Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases
Cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases are the leading causes of death, morbidity, and disability worldwide. Despite the availability of medical and preventive interventions, damaged tissue regeneration is the only action that can restore proper organ function and reduce patient disability.
Tissue regeneration in complex organisms such as mammals is limited to skin, hair, nails, intestinal epithelium, bone tissue formation, and scar formation in damaged tissues. However, the human heart and central nervous system (CNS) cannot regenerate. This creates long-term heart damage or, in many cases, death when heart attacks occur, and neurological impairments in the CNS when neurons are damaged.
The ability of zebrafish to regenerate their heart, motoneurons, and spinal cord makes them an ideal model for research on organ, heart, and neuron regeneration. Scientists can study the ability of cardiac or neuronal tissue to repair itself after damage while the zebrafish remains alive.
Additionally, zebrafish embryos begin to feed independently around 5-6 days after fertilization, and most neuronal types are developed and present at this stage, offering the opportunity to study adult brain and neural tissue behavior.
Understanding how and why zebrafish organs regenerate presents many opportunities to study diseases and disorders such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and autism. However, it also presents challenges in finding effective treatments and cures.
In conclusion, the ability of zebrafish to regenerate their tissue has led to their use as models in organ and tissue regeneration research. This research has the potential to lead to significant advancements in the treatment of chronic diseases such as heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, improving patients’ quality of life. However, much work remains before these diseases become a thing of the past.