Zebra fish provide insight into bone regeneration

Posted Feb 5, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Scientists have studied the natural process of bone regeneration in zebra fish and think that the insights they gained could be used to advance therapies for bone fractures and disease.
A female specimen of a zebrafish (Danio rerio) breed with fantails
A female specimen of a zebrafish (Danio rerio) breed with fantails
The Zebra fish is quite remarkable. The fish has two molecular pathways that work in concert to allow adult zebra fish to perfectly replace bones lost upon fin amputation. One pathway resets existing bone cells to a developmental stem cell-like state and then supports their growth to replace lost cells. The second directs the newly formed cells to turn back into functional, organized bone. The process is unique to animals like zebra fish and could be the key to their ability to perfectly restore lost tissue.
The Zebra Fish is native to the streams of the southeastern Himalayan region, and is found in parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Burma. The fish is named for the five uniform, pigmented, horizontal, blue stripes on the side of the body, which are reminiscent of a zebra's stripes.
This process has been [url=http:// t=_blank]studied by scientists, keen to see if anything can be replicated for use with people. They found that a cellular process triggers residual cells to revert to a less developed state upon tissue damage, a process known as dedifferentation.
Mammals, including humans, have the same pathways however they do not work in the same way, stopping people from regenerating bone. Finding the key to this could advance surgery and recovery therapy considerably. The science team hope that, one day, enhancing human bone repair or even inducing bone regeneration will be possible.
The study was carried out by University of Oregon biologists and the findings have been published in the journal Cell Reports, in a paper titled “Sequential and Opposing Activities of Wnt and BMP Coordinate Zebrafish Bone Regeneration.”