New model may help researchers understand and treat human digestive problems
Every animal — including humans — is home to "friendly" gut bacteria that help digest food and perform other important functions. Now, a tiny, transparent fish is literally offering biologists a new window into these mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have shown for the first time that zebrafish can be raised in a germ-free environment. Zebrafish are transparent until they reach adulthood. Thus, these fish are providing researchers with unique opportunities to watch the gut develop with and without the beneficial effects of symbiotic bacteria.
"To untangle the complex interactions between humans and their friendly gut bacteria, we need simple animal models that can function as living test tubes," explains principal investigator Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D. "These models are key to identifying the genes and chemicals that allow friendly bacteria to enhance our health."
Gila Z. Reckess | EurekAlert!
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