Zebrafish help researchers understand harmful effects of chemicals

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Commonly sold in pet stores, zebrafish have been used for research at OSU since the mid-1990s. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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The aquatic 'lab rats' produce about 25,000 eggs each day for use in studies related to human health

Oregon State University is using zebrafish to understand the risks that chemicals, nanomaterials and pharmaceuticals pose to human health. The tiny fish are transparent during development, mature rapidly and share about 80 percent of their genes with humans. This allows scientists to run many tests in a short time on a huge number of subjects.

They're hoping the fish will help them answer questions like “What are the implications of pesticide exposure on childhood development?” and “Can mental health diseases like autism be caused by environmental exposure to chemicals during early development?" They hope the answers will lead to the development of safer consumer products.

OSU researchers are also studying how the fish regenerate tissue so that one day, doctors might be able to use that knowledge to replace or repair injured tissues in patients.

Source: Robert Tanguay, director of OSU’s Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory.

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