We all know of animals that are able to regenerate: lizards that grow back their tails, flatworms that can grow into new worms when cut in half. Zebrafish have this special ability as well. You can’t cut them in half and expect two new zebrafish, but there are parts of their body that are able to regenerate, such as heart tissue. The heart cell can divide to replenish missing tissue; interestingly, this property is also shown in a newborn mouse heart, but is lost as the mouse matures (European Biopharmaceutical Review, April issue).
The key to spinal cord injury treatment?
Regenerative abilities may also be the key to spinal cord injury treatment; yet another good reason for scientists to study zebrafish in the lab. They may hold the key to the development of important therapies for spinal cord injury, as Liping Ma and colleagues show us in the April issue of PLOS ONE.