University of British Columbia
The proposed edition will focus on the value of zebrafish models for exploring early stages of neurological diseases such as in ALS, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Such stages are largely a mystery in current research. In humans, the absence of effective biomarkers means that disease processes can only be studied once the disease state has been clinically diagnosed, a point at which an enormous amount of damage has already occurred in the particular regions of the central nervous system affected in each disease. Detailed histological analysis is performed only post mortem. In silico models have not proven useful in the search for early stages and in vitro methods suffer from a lack of interneuronal complexity that characterizes the diseases. In vivo methods in conventional rodent models also have a range of caveats, not least the inability to see emerging neurodegenerative cascades in real-time. Zebrafish models allow investigators to create high throughput studies and image areas of the nervous system in real-time. Needless to say, there are also disadvantages, but in our view, these are outweighed by the distinct advantages. One of these is the ability to create 'morpholinos' expressing gene variations. Such models are rapidly expanding in scope and sophistication with imaging techinques that are on the cutting edge. The proposed edition will examine some of these studies, the techniques they use and explore the potential for therapeutic development.