Oh, to be a fish!

If you had the opportunity to be reincarnated as an animal what would you choose? A lion perhaps? An elephant? A dog? Certainly a dog in our house!

A very good friend of mine thinks I’m already reincarnated as an animal. She thinks I am some sort of bovine. She affectionately refers to me as BS.

However, there is a lot to be said, as far as I’m concerned, in coming back as a fish. Not any sort of fish though.

Ona Bloom is a PH student, working on the latest ideas in spinal cord injuries. Here is part of the interview she recently gave about her work.

Scientists have known for years that an ancient species of fish called the lamprey has a remarkable ability to rebuild their spinal cord after it’s been severed. After the lamprey spinal cord is cut, they recover from paralysis to fully swimming again in about twelve weeks, without taking any medicines or other treatments.

We are studying the lamprey because we want to know the recipe of molecular ingredients that supports successful recovery after spinal cord injury.

The genome of this animal was reported about 5 years ago, in a publication led by my colleagues Dr. Jeramiah Smith at the University of Kentucky and Dr. Weiming Li at Michigan State University.

It turns out that many aspects of the lamprey genome are similar to ours, particularly in the central nervous system. Therefore, we think it is a reasonable expectation that what we learn from lamprey could give us some relevant clues about what might be different about the responses in mammals and other animals that are not good at regenerating their spinal cord.

In this study, we found that the expression of many genes in the spinal cord and brain of lampreys change during their recovery from spinal cord injury. Some of the genes that get activated are similar to what happens when our peripheral nervous system is injured, which is better at regenerating than the central nervous system.

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One thought on “Oh, to be a fish!

  • Henry Mydlarz
    27/02/2018 at 5:32 pm

    It’s good to read your posts, Gerard! It may very well that the Lamprey’s ability to recover has a spin off to us humans.

    On a somewhat different note, I am far from being able to swim like a fish, but the meagre swimming I do helps me forget about my stresses, my bad ankle, and my seeming perpetual drowsiness. Maybe I too am destined to be a fish.

    Don’t become a fish just yet, though! I’ve been wanting to put a projector question to you, as I know your brain is working full bore. Been too busy.

    As always, I wish you luck. I hope you maintain your positiveness. As you so very well know, you never know what’s around the corner!

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