GALVESTON, Texas—The stereotypical picture of a scientist includes a white lab coat and a laboratory full of petri dishes, beakers and test tubes. However, some research questions can only be answered using the complexity of living, breathing multicellular organisms. In these cases, preliminary studies use animal models, and if successful, the final stages of development for a new drug or therapy are conducted using human subjects.
Today, scientists are using a certain animal more extensively in order to understand human disease. The Zebrafish is a small torpedo-shaped fish native to the Indian subcontinent. It’s named for its distinctive horizontal pattern of alternating gold or silver and blue stripes.
While it looks nothing like a human, this fish is actually a great model for studying aspects of human disease. Its genome has been completely sequenced, it matures quickly, its genes can be manipulated and its embryos are transparent. These characteristics make the Zebrafish a highly used and valuable model for genetic and developmental studies.
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