Zebrafish Embryos Used To Identify New Diabetes Drugs

Posted: Aug 19 2015, 7:37am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Zebrafish Embryos Used to Identify New Diabetes Drugs
The pancreatic beta cells of a specially bred zebrafish glow yellow to indicate the production of insulin. The pancreatic cells not responsible for producing insulin glow red. / Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Zebrafish Embryos may prove Suitable for Testing New Diabetes Medicines

Scientists have found that zebrafish embryos may prove suitable for testing new diabetes medicines.

Researchers have genetically engineered 500,000 zebrafish embryos. These mutant fish will aid the discovery of diabetes drugs in the future. 24 drug candidates have already gotten selected for study purposes.

And although more research needs to get done, it is a promising field of endeavor. There appear to be no limits to the scope of this experiment. It could yield a lot of information which can then get applied in real life.

The method employed has been termed HTS. Dosages of drugs could be given to candidates on microtiter plates. The plates are like small test tubes. Zebrafish are used since their embryos are transparent.

This allows the screening of these tiny creatures. That is thanks to full visibility of what goes on inside their bodies. Via genetic engineering, the embryos are bred. And that too in such a manner that the pancreatic cells secreting insulin glowed yellow. And those which didn’t secrete insulin glowed red.

Thousands of drugs got tested on these tiny creatures. The different drugs got applied in six doses. This increased the coincidence of a true wonder drug being found for diabetes. The differences between red and yellow glowing regions were obvious. Their positions in the pancreas of the zebrafish was the main object of the study.

"More studies need to be done, but we think there's potentially no limit on the diseases this screening technique could be applied to other than the human imagination," says Jeffrey Mumm, Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Over 24 compounds got discovered. They had a remarkable effect on insulin secreting cells in the pancreas. Other biological interactions were also found. They led to pathways in the body related to diabetes expression.

These involved serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for easing depression. It is a hormone that when released in the brain leads to feelings of calmness and peace of mind. The novel fish embryo technique has proven to be revolutionary.

By researching on these zebrafish, the potential effects of drugs on humans could get extrapolated. And although it is a long way off from fish embryos to full-fledged human beings, the correlation exists.

Human beings have been using animal species since times immemorial. These include: rats, rabbits, fruit flies, hamsters and fish as sources of study in lab settings. Great cruelty has been done to many of the species. for the sake of science such acts of injustice do take place.

Animals too are a paradox since they resemble us most. And they are caught in the same old tangled web with us more fortunate humans. It is an altogether viable thesis that the future of humans will be to end up as stuck in an ecological niche. And thus they will make way for some other species which may be even more violent and invasive than man.

The novel fish embryo technique is described in the Aug. 14 edition of eLife.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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