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World of science: In bio research it's all about Zebrafish

 
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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Location: A false vacuum abiding in ignorance.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 7:43 pm    Post subject: World of science: In bio research it's all about Zebrafish Reply with quote

SO does this mean Dro needs to change his name to Zeb? This story was shown to me by a well-published researcher I've known since high school who's a Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital:

How zebrafish became the hottest animal in science
Updated by Susannah Locke on October 3, 2014, 10:20 a.m. ET

Quote:
Most people think of zebrafish as little more than a cheap household pet. The fish are small — about an inch or two long — and easy to care for. Nothing special, it seems.

But inside laboratory aquariums, zebrafish are quickly gaining a reputation as utterly crucial for medical and genetic research.

Over the last few decades, the use of zebrafish in biomedical research has skyrocketed. Zebrafish breed quickly, scientists can manipulate their genes easily, and the fish actually share a surprising number of similarities with humans.

That explains why more and more major biology papers are being published using zebrafish as their organism of choice — not the lab rat, the lab mouse, or the fruit fly.

Researchers have been able to watch zebrafish think, by making individual brain cells turn fluorescent when they're active. They've also used zebrafish to investigate the causes of rare diseases and to find potential new drugs. And that's just some of the many things they've been doing with this handy fish.

So why are zebrafish becoming so crucial for medical and genetics research? And what have we actually learned from them? Here's an overview:



Full story: http://www.vox.com/2014/10/3/6141401/zebrafish-disease-genetics-model-organism-trend
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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want some of those custom Casper zebrafish used in research, you can order some up from Carolina Biological Supply Company. They're not exactly cheap, but you do get some useful materials for lesson plans, etc. These fish are not GMO, they were obtained through selective breeding. The traits for their transparency are recessive and actually involve a few different genes that control different parts of the fish's appearance.

The GMO neon colored "GloFish" you can get at any pet store (even Wal-Mart), for about five bucks each. They need a blacklight to show off their color the best, because the pigment in their skin fluoresces under UV to give off the "glow." Make sure you're getting one of the GMO fish featured on this site and not just some unlucky fish that's been injected with dye. Dyed fish have been around for generations despite it being well-known that it's harmful to them (and the coloration is only temporary). As long as people keep buying them, suppliers will keep dying them. But the genetically-engineered GloFish are perfectly healthy.

The originals are very handsome and about as cheap and hardy as tropical fish get. They all have broad dark blue stripes, and the pinstripes inbetween are silver in females and gold in males.



There are also selectively bred long-finned, leopard-spotted, and golden versions (and yes, you can cross them to get longfin golden or longfin leopard zebrafish).

Be sure to get at least half a dozen, the more the merrier. These are social fish that need the company of their own kind. But if you get a small school of them together they'll swim out in the open and serve to calm bigger, more nervous fish who see the zebrafish and know there's no predators around. Small, schooling fish who serve as an "all clear" to others are called dither fish and sometimes it's important to have them around to keep the other fish from being stressed and hiding all the time.

All the varieties need the same things, which aren't much. A standard 10-gallon tank is the absolute minimum, it's better to go bigger. Or rather, go longer: they appreciate length more than height. These fish need room to zip around.
They aren't very sensitive to water chemistry so long as you do the basics like dechlorination and regular water changes. In fact they don't even need a heater if you keep the room temperature steady and make sure it doesn't drop below 65F (18C).

Other lab fish that also make good, hardy pets are Japanese Ricefish (the first vertebrates to get it on in space), and Fathead minnows (also available in Rosy Red colors) which have interesting parental habits and can be bought in most live bait shops.
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Dro



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3861

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I am actually studying a BRCA disease in zebrafish these days, so yeah!

I saw that article earlier and was a little disappointed in that the title says "how" but it was more why. The story is pretty cool, in that George Streisinger decided to do genetics in something more complex than the phage he had been studying. He settled on zebrafish, and went to work. NIH grant panels dissed his ideas, so his colleagues shifted funds over to keep the lab going (something that these days is considered a criminal offense and requires FBI investigations). After many years he worked out how to raise them, how to clone them, how to map mutations, etc. He then died scuba diving off the Oregon coast, just as he was being recognized for the work. His lab members continued the work, and some labs around him switched over from their research to zebrafish to honor what he had done and keep the fire going. That group is one of the closest teams I have ever seen.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do zebrafish get breast cancer?
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Dro



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, but the same protein complex used for repairing DNA (and BRCA is part of that complex) is in zebrafish, and they develop various problems that reflect the activity of the complex and which are also present in humans that have mutations in the complex. So a pretty good model for understanding some of the basic processes going on.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dro: On another note, after closer inspection, does this mean your name should now be Cyp? Wink
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