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Zebrafish help unlock mystery of motor neurone disease

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Scientists from the in the UK have successfully created that carry the complex genetic change known to cause the most common genetic form of motor neurone (MND).

The breakthrough will help to accelerate pioneering research and experimental drug trials to tackle the degenerative

Until now, research to better understand how the occurs and the trial of experimental drugs has been conducted on fruit flies or mice models. This has had limited success due to the difference between the human brain and the fruit fly brain, and the time and cost implications of using mice models.

For the first time, researchers from the of Translational (SITraN) have successfully created the complex aspects of human C9-ALS/FTD pathobiology in models.

This pioneering breakthrough is essential for studying the underlying mechanisms of and (FTD).

MND, also known as (ALS), is a devastating that affects the nerves motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that tell the muscles what to do.

The messages from these nerves gradually stop reaching the muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and eventually waste. The affects a patient's ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe. affects 5,000 adults in the UK and there is currently no cure.

Approximately 10 per cent of cases are inherited but the remaining 90 per cent of cases are caused by complex genetic and environmental interactions which are currently not well understood this is known as sporadic MND.

The most commonly known genetic cause of MND and FTD is a hexanucleotide expansion within the first intron of the C9orf72 gene. In this gene there are hundreds and thousands of repetitions of the sequence GGGGCC in patients with MND.

This mutation is the largest genetic cause of MND and also the most predominant form of sporadic

Dr Tennore Ramesh, from SITraN at the University of Sheffield, said, "Using models for MND research means that we can accelerate studies and our understanding of the devastating disease and other neurological conditions.

"Because zebrafish are transparent you can record results of studies much quicker and easier the research is much less invasive. Trialling 1,000 drugs on mice models would take more than 10 years, however trialling 1,000 drugs on zebrafish would take only a couple of months. This will enable us to accelerate research into clinical trials in humans quicker than ever before," he said.

The four-year project, which was led by Dr Ramesh in collaboration with leading researchers from SITraN, including Dame Pamela Shaw, of the Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Sheffield, is published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

The study was funded by the

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 22:06 IST