Researchers Use Zebrafish to Study Human Diseases

14 Oct, 2019 |

Researchers from the Department of Marine science and Fisheries, SQU grow fish not only for eating but also for finding cure to human diseases through several research projects. These researches are focusing on expanding the use of Oman’s resources and improving life style of Omani people. The research projects are expanding the knowledge that the students gained from the marine and fisheries major then cooperating with other fields such as agriculture, food security, food safety and the medicine. One of the projects that they are performing is “Using zebrafish as an experimental model for anti-diabetes”. This experiment explores the possibility of curing diabetes or reducing the blood sugar level in humans by using zebrafish as a model.

Mr. Ahmed Al Kyumi, the leader of project, said that scientists use a variety of laboratory animals to investigate prevention and cure of human diseases. For instance, apes, rats, rabbits and mice have been frequently used animal models in medical experiments since long time. Thought apes have a similar anatomy and physiological function to humans, using apes as animal models leads to higher costs and difficult management. Researchers have been searching for better animal models, which have similar anatomy and physiological function of humans, but also the merits of being individually small, easily managed, and low costs. Among approximately 26,000 genes, 2,601 of zebrafish genes have the same as potential human disease genes and this gene similarity between zebra fish and humans gives potential for studying human diseases. Therefore, using zebra fish as an animal model for experiments has large value in researching human diseases. He added the use of zebra fish is far more suitable in the aspect of research ethics, the cost and the availability of a test object.

This project was awarded at the Manafa’a 2019 from the Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Center. The purpose of this event was to build eco-entrepreneurs with genetic resources in Oman. As many as 55 teams from across the Sultanate participated at the first stage and 15 teams competed at the final stage through Ideathon on 27 and 28th September. “Using zebrafish as an experimental model for anti-diabetes” project was selected as one of four winning projects.  The supervisor of this project, Dr. Gilha Yoon said that this type of research is not confined to Marine Science alone; it requires collaboration with different fields such as medicine, crop science, pharmacology and fisheries. This collaboration is what the Sultanate needs now, as there is a huge potential for the development of research and innovation in this area and creating advances in the medical, environmental and academic fields.

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