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Tailor-Made Fish Help Explain Genetic Conditions in Children

By October 23, 2018No Comments

More than five years ago, when Dr. Lisa Maves, a scientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, first started using CRISPR to make genetic alterations in zebrafish, she saw the potential for the minnow-sized fish to help doctors understand how genetic mutations contribute to a child’s condition.

“Essentially, we set out to make a patient’s fish,” Maves said. “The zebrafish has a genome that is remarkably similar to humans. As new gene editing technology was just becoming available, I wondered whether we could use this technology to create a fish that mimicked the complex genetic conditions we see in children.”

Maves hypothesized that genetically engineering the fish in this manner would help uncover how different genes affect development and cause disease.

“Physicians will often use DNA sequencing to better understand the genetic basis of a patient’s condition,” Maves said. “Even with this information, it’s difficult to say which DNA mutations are really having effects. The zebrafish could hold the key to showing us how mutations contribute to disease.”