This brightly-coloured bundle of tissue, a developing heart from a two-day old zebrafish, is one of the winners of the British Heart Foundation’s Reflections of Research awards. Little more than a thick tube of cells, it’s just starting to loop around to form the two chambers of the fish heart – the atrium, where blood flows in from the body, and the ventricle, which pushes it back out again. Zebrafish are remarkable in their ability to repair damage to their heart. If only human hearts could do similarly, then more than 150,000 people in the UK wouldn’t die of heart and circulatory diseases every year. Scientists are studying the genes and molecules underlying the curious regenerative powers of the zebrafish, in the hope of finding ways to repair our own broken hearts one day.
Written by Kat Arney
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