Scientists trace gene that helps Zebrafish regenerate their damaged heart

By: |
December 01, 2020 3:17 PM

Scientists at the Pune based Agharkar Research Institute have in a study identified the genes found in the fish that helps it regenerate the damaged part of its heart.

The study which tries to understand the heart generation process of this unique species found a mention in the Development journal. (Credit: The Indian Express)

Scientists have found that Zebrafish which is a tiny fish and found in the freshwater ecosystem is able to regenerate its damaged heart in a very short period of time. Prevalent in the South Asian region, the fish is sold in the aquariums and also known by its trade name Danio, the Indian Express reported. Scientists at the Pune based Agharkar Research Institute have in a study identified the genes found in the fish that helps it regenerate the damaged part of its heart. The study which tries to understand the heart generation process of this unique species found a mention in the Development journal.

What is Zebrafish?
The species is a tiny one about 2-3 cm long and is found in abundance in tropical and subtropical regions of the planet. The fish is also considered to be an indigenous species to the Indo-Gangetic plains of India, where they are found in large numbers in the water filled paddy fields along with streams and stagnant water bodies. The fish has a very short lifespan of about 2-3 years in laboratory conditions and it becomes adult within weeks after it is born. What makes the fish an attractive proposition for the scientific community is its transparent body through which one can easily spot various body organs of the fish including heart and blood circulation.

The Agharkar Research Institute has an inhouse space where thousands of Zebrafish are kept at suitable temperature. Dr. Kenneth Poss, Professor at Duke University at the United States of America was the first scientist who came across the unique ability of the species to regenerate its damaged heart for the first time about 20 years ago and since then scientists across most of the countries are trying to understand the unique mechanism. After years of research and collaboration, scientists have been able to find a gene named 2a (ccn2a) which promotes heart regeneration by increasing the chances of cardiomyocyte proliferation.

Dr Chinmoy Patra, Head of the Max-Planck Partner Group, Department of Development Biology, Agharkar Research Institute told the Indian Express that the gene promotes regeneration of heart in the fish and scientists are looking at ways to explore the same process for humans therapy.

Heart diseases and blood circulation diseases are the cause for the death of the largest number of people globally. Humans do not have the ability to regenerate their damaged heart organ unlike their liver or skin. The breakthrough in finding the gene in the Zebrafish will help understand scientists to understand the mechanism of heart regeneration and look at the possibilities of making it possible for humans.

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