Scientists identify zebrafish gene that can promote heart regeneration 

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The fish is native to South Asia's Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams.

  • Zebrafish – a tiny freshwater fish barely 2-3 cm long can efficiently regenerate its damaged heart within a short time period. 
  • Found in South Asia, it is a popular aquarium fish, frequently sold under the trade name Danio. 
  • Now, scientists at Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute have used this tiny animal model and identified genes that can promote heart regeneration
  • Scientists have sought to decode the heart regeneration processes using this animal model.

 

Zebrafish – a suitable research model

  • Zebrafish is a small (2-3 cm long) freshwater fish found in the tropical and subtropical regions. 
  • The fish is native to South Asia’s Indo-Gangetic plains, where they are mostly found in the paddy fields and even in stagnant water and streams
  • The fish become adults at three months and survive 2-3 years in a laboratory condition
  • This fish’s unique characteristics lie in its transparency during its embryonic stages, allowing observing all organs, including beating heart and blood circulation.
  • A zebrafish attracts developmental biologists due to its adequate regeneration capacity of almost all its organs, including the brain, heart, eye, spinal cord.
  • The ability of zebrafish to heal their heart after injury makes them an attractive model to investigate mechanisms governing the regenerative process. 
  • Through years of research, scientists are coming closer to delineating the intricate pathways of zebrafish heart regeneration for further translational approaches.
  • Scientists used this tiny fish to identify genes/proteins that promote heart regeneration and its working model. 
  • This identify the cellular communication network factor 2a (ccn2a), a gene that can promote heart regeneration by enhancing cardio myocyte proliferation. 
  • Ccn2a promotes the innate regenerative response of the adult zebrafish heart and maybe a promising therapeutic target for humans
  • Till now, there is no treatment available to restore the damaged heart function in humans. 
  • Hence scientists have sought to decode the heart regeneration processes using this model animal, which can naturally regenerate their hearts efficiently so as to understand the processes which can illuminate strategies to improve human cardiac regeneration.
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