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scientist with zebrafish

Zebrafish in the headlines

Zebrafish are making a big splash in the world of MS research.

The most recent coverage has been about Dr Anne Astier’s research project at the University of Edinburgh, funded by us. Dr Astier and her team will track where and how a CD46 protein affects the movement of immune cells into the brain.

Research to date suggests CD46 may not be activated properly in people with MS. So far this has only been shown in a test tube, and the team now need to see if it translates into a living organism.

Later in the study Dr Astier will look at whether vitamin D can influence the activity of the CD46 protein and the movement of immune cells into the brain.

Why zebrafish?

Zebrafish are remarkably genetically-similar to humans and have the ability to reproduce and develop quickly.

Dr Astier’s new project will use zebrafish to learn more about the movement of immune cells by fluorescently ‘labelling’ the CD46 protein. Zebrafish are translucent so it is easy to observe and track these fluorescent proteins inside the fish.

Innovative research

Dr Anne Astier, Academic Fellow at the University of Edinburgh said: “We’re very excited to be involved in this new research as it will be the first time we can observe this protein operating in a living organism.

“By putting a fluorescent CD46 protein in this tiny fish - with the help of zebrafish specialist Dr Dirk Sieger - we’ll be able to observe how the protein operates. This could help us find a way to stop it functioning abnormally as observed in people with MS.”

Dr Sorrel Bickley, our Head of Biomedical Research said: “With over 100,000 people living with MS, it’s vital we continue to fund innovative research to understand what causes the condition.

“Discovering how this protein acts in people with MS - by cleverly tracking its movement in zebrafish - could lead to the development of more specific treatments for MS with fewer side effects.”