Researchers at the University of Miami are studying zebrafish to understand human genetics and identify treatment strategies for a wide spectrum of diseases and conditions, such as hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy, and autism.
Zebrafish share 70 percent of their genes with humans. Aside from their similar genetic structure, zebrafish are valuable research models because they are nearly transparent during their first week of life and develop at warp speed. In their first hour, they grow from one cell to four; in two hours, they have 64 cells. Researchers can literally watch the heart, brain, lungs, blood vessels, digestive system, eyes, and ears of the fish develop.