After investigating how to regrow bones with silk, biologists found out that zebrafish, a tropical fish native to the Himalayan region but very common in tanks, could be studied for the same purpose. In fact, this aquatic species has the amazing ability to regenerate lost appendages, such as fins.
Researchers at the University of Oregon discovered that this process is applicable to human bones as well.
Whenever a zebrafish loses a fin, a regeneration process starts. Residual cells near the wound revert to a less developed state. This process is known as dedifferentiation.
Zebrafish has two molecular pathways that work together to make the dedifferentiation possible. The first resets existing bone cells to a developmental state and supports their growth to replace lost cells. The second one directs the new cells to turn back into organized bone.
Humans have these same pathways, but they are not working together as they do for zebrafishes. Therefore, by manipulating these pathways, bone growth and repair could be enhance.
Seems we can improve our health treatments thanks to this popular aquarium fish!