Adult zebrafish are able to regenerate organs in a way humans can only dream off. A dissected spinal cord or a damaged optical nerve can regenerate with total restoration of function. The same holds true for the heart and the kidney, - organs known from our body to fail to regenerate damaged tissue almost entirely.
A general observation is that damaged tissues develop scar tissue only transiently in fish. Evidence points to scar tissue being an important factor to obstruct tissue regeneration in our body. It is of high interest to find out how zebrafish manage to maintain stem cells throughout their life time and how they can reorganise damaged tissue so that scar formation is prevented and stem cells can differentiate to rebuild the damaged tissue. The genes and molecular interactions of their products, the proteins, are very similar in fish and man . It is thus hoped that we can learn from the zebrafish how tissues are repaired effectively.
Our dream is to apply these principles to humans to repair organs like the brain, the heart or the kidney.