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Photo: David Lyons, a researcher at Edinburgh MS research lab

David and his team are o-fish-ally Legends of the Lab

Hannah Maunder

Superman can fly. Iron Man has his powered suit. Wonder Woman has incredible lasso skills. Professor David Lyons has his battalion of zebrafish. MS Award nominees David and his team in Edinburgh are hoping to change lives using these tiny fish…

Zebrafish are amazing. They may be the size of your little finger and more commonly found gliding around aquariums, but don’t be fooled – they can help us achieve great things.

Fishy familiarity

First of all, contrary to appearances they are genetically similar to you. The stripy ones also have the ability to reproduce and develop quickly (take that, rabbits). What’s more, they’re translucent. Letting it all hang out may not seem like a superpower, but it means that researchers can more easily see what their nerve cells are up to.

Of course, zebrafish have their limitations. They don’t have as much as a science GSCE between them. What we need are the brains behind the fish.

With his white coat, impressive resume, top team and our backing, David’s work using zebrafish to link nerve cell activity to myelin production could help change lives.

Defending nerve cells

Understanding how myelin is produced is very important, as it is the myelin coating on nerves that is damaged in MS. Now David and his team will be looking for new genes that are important for myelin repair.

The knowledge they’re uncovering about myelin production could help develop future treatments to repair and regenerate myelin in people with all types of MS.

With the potential to help the millions of people around the world who have MS, that trumps anything superheroes in spandex and capes can do!

Superheroes everywhere

And David and his team aren’t alone. Down the corridor Dr Anne Astier is also rallying the zebrafish troops in her exciting work into both brain inflammation and how vitamin D plays a role in MS.

They’re part of a committed group of scientists across the UK and across the globe who are exploring ways to develop new treatments for people with MS.

David, Anne and their teams are Legends of the Lab, just like all researchers, people taking part in trials and donors are. They have the power to stop MS, and so do you.

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