Zebrafish as alternative animal for research: Danio rerio to provide insight into human aggressive behaviour
By Syed Akbar Hyderabad, July 29: The next major breakthrough in medical sciences including developmentof new drugs for Parkinson's, schizophrenia, heart failure and diabetes-related blindness could well comefrom a little fish that adorns aquariums at home. With Zebrafish or Danio rerio fast emerging as an alternative animal for research indevelopmental biology, oncology, toxicology, genetics, neurology and regenerative medicine, scientists inHyderabad are now increasingly looking at this humble fish as a model for human diseases including congenital heartproblems. It will also help in development of powerful medicines for age-related health issues. The city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, which has been doing researchon zebrafish, is setting up an exclusive laboratory for research on this alternative animal model. The structure ofbrain in zebrafish is similar to the brain in human beings and this has prompted the CCMB to deal exclusively with thisfish to investigate developmental biology in vertebrates. "The zebrafish is an important model for diseases in man. The laboratory for research onzebrafish is almost ready and it will be opened soon," said Dr Ch Mohan Rao, director of CCMB. Scientists in the city and elsewhere are increasingly using zebrafish after the AnimalWelfare Board of India has tightened the norms of use of mouse, rat, monkey, cat, rabbit and other vertebrateanimals in research. There are no such restrictions on zebrafish and its life cycle is also short. It is also the bestanimal model for understanding the mechanism of regeneration and degeneration as also the complex neuroscience, which playsan important role in human health and medicine. Zebrafish contains certain proteins which also play important role in neurological andgenetic problems in human beings. It's particularly important to understand Huntington's disease. Researchers also hope to unravel the mystery behind the aggressive behaviour in animalsand human beings through zebrafish, as the genetic tools in this fish, serve as a neurogenetic model for researchon neural circuits responsible for aggressive behaviour. If this becomes successful, a mechanism can be evolved to tameaggression in man and animals.