Zebrafish bring hope to sufferers of MND

A hormone known for boosting happiness could help research into motor neurone disease (MND) and spinal cord injuries, a study has found.

Zebrafish: MND boost. Picture: Jane Barlow

Edinburgh University scientists have discovered that serotonin can help zebrafish recover from a spinal cord injury by sending signals to stem cells found in the spinal cord to boost the growth of new motor neurons – nerve cells that are vital for controlling muscle activity.

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Damage to motor neurons in people is irreversible, but the tropical fish can heal themselves by growing new motor neurons, said the study published in the journal Cell Reports.

Dr Thomas Becker, from Edinburgh University, said: “Understanding how zebrafish are able to repair damaged nerves could one day help us to trigger similar mechanisms in human stem cells.”