Zebrafish are useful in research studies exploring basic biology and human disease mechanisms. They share 70% of their genetic makeup with humans. Their eggs are fertilized externally and their embryos are transparent. All of this makes Zebrafish a valuable model for studies to understand gene function and many human genetic diseases.
One example is Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder of the X chromosome, which affects 1 in every 3,500 – 5,000 boys and leads to progressive muscle loss and ultimately death. Zebrafish have the same gene and it can be modified to mimic the disorder. Because of the rapid lifecycle of zebrafish, within just a few days scientists are able to see the effect of various drug combinations on the fish embryos. What they learn will lead to effective new treatments for boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.