Zebrafish, unlike people, can recover from spinal cord injuries, thanks to a healing process that’s controlled by immune cells called macrophages. Gaining a better understanding of this phenomenon could advance efforts to improve the treatment of spinal cord injury in people.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are contributing to that effort by using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to study the genes that play an important role in modulating the response to spinal cord injury in zebrafish. Using the technique, they zeroed in on four genes that are crucial for repairing severed spinal cords, they reported in the journal PLOS Genetics.
The researchers used synthetic RNA Oligo CRISPR guide RNAs (sCrRNAs) to target specific genes and then disrupt them. They started with a list of 350 genes known to be involved in the inflammatory process that leads to regeneration in the fish.