A pioneering breakthrough in the way life research is conducted will help speed up brain studies.
A team of scientists from the University of Sheffield has developed a new method of studying neurovascular jointing – how the brain regulates blood supply – using zebrafish.
Neurovascular jointing is an important function and if it goes wrong, it can cause neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and stroke.
Until now, neurovascular studies for the measurement of brain function and blood pressure have always been carried out using rodents, which under anesthetics undergo invasive surgery.
Tim Sheffield, led by Professor Tim Chico, dr. Clare Hovarth and doctors. student Karishma Chhabria, has developed a metabolic method using zebrafish larvae such as 1-2 mm long tissues that are almost transparent. Their transparency allows the observation of the function of the brain and blood flow in a non-invasive and completely painless manner.
"Understanding neurovascular ties is necessary if we find new treatments for devastating diseases such as dementia and stroke," said Ms. Chhabria of the Center of Bateson University in Sheffield.
"Animal research plays a key role in our efforts to remain at the forefront of medicine and science. At the University of Sheffield, we find alternative models that greatly reduce the need for invasive animal research.
"We use only animals in which no other alternative is possible and is dedicated to finding other alternatives. Observation of zebrafis is completely painless and non-invasive, which provides a completely new approach to the study of brain function."
The Sheffield research group has already used this zebrafish model to discover a drug that restores the effect of diabetes on brain function, which I hope will be taken into clinical research in the future.
Dr. Clare Hovarth, Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the University of Sheffield, said: "Our neurons have very little energy, so when they are oxygenated – what happens when someone has a stroke – neurons can quickly die and there is no way to get them back .
"With this new model, we were able to observe earlier biomarkers about when neurovascular joints go wrong.
"In the case of our research on diabetes, we could observe the effect of a new treatment that preoccupies the effects of too much glucose.
"The results are really promising and pave the way for further research on diabetes in this area using zebrafish."
The research was published in Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism.
Tim Chico, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and head of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Sheffield, said: "Diabetes has been accelerating over the last few decades and has significant effects on the heart and brain.
"We are excited to find a way to reduce the effects of high levels of glucose on brain function, which, if effective in humans, would be a major improvement."
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Karishma Chhabria et al. The effect of hyperglycaemia on neurovascular cramping and cerebrovascular structure in zebrafia, Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism (2018). DOI: 10.1177 / 0271678Ks18810615