The zebrafish’s high-acuity zone as a novel model for the human macula

Dr Takeshi Yoshimatsu, University of Sussex - £25,000

That primates do not have a macula is a challenge for clinical research. This research from Sussex University is investigating whether cells from the zebrafish eye can be manipulated to create a macula which can be used in future research.

What is the problem?

One of the constraints that research into macular disease can come up against is that very few animals have a macula. Frequently used lab animals such as mice and rats do not, so they cannot directly mimic the human eye.

What are they doing?

Zebrafish have been extensively used for eye research, and their eyes have a structure that looks like – and may well behave similarly to – the human macula. We will examine how the eyes of zebrafish develop, and compare that to data we already have about the development of the human macula. If successful, experiments with zebrafish could speed up the progress of macular research for our team, and many others around the world.

How can this help?

In the future, this could lead to being able to create a macula for use in the laboratory by gene manipulation of the cells of the zebrafish’s own macula-like organ. This would open up the field for considerable more research into macular disease.