First in the Ural Federal District Equipment for Studying Medications on Fish Is Now Available at SUSU

At the SUSU Research Laboratory for System Pathology and Advanced Medicinal Products, scientists of the China-Russia Research and Education Centre for System Pathology (SUSU) are studying the mechanisms of development of stress-related diseases and engineering promising medications for their correction. Now, new medications will be tested not on laboratory rodents but on popular aquarium fish of Danio Rerio (Zebrafish).

The Danio Rerio striped fish, which are found in the Ganges River in India, has all the basic neurotransmitter systems similar to those observed in humans, making this freshwater fish perfect for studying new compounds that could help humans combat stress and depression in the future.

At the moment, the university's specialists in medicine and biology are using these fish to study the effects of new selective inhibitors of serotonin transporters (third generation antidepressants). After being exposed to stress, some fish are treated with these compounds, to assess the therapeutic effect of which a series of behavioural and biochemical tests are conducted.

“At our laboratory, organic chemists are engineering new medicinal compounds,” says Doctor of Sciences (Biology), Senior Research Fellow of the SUSU Research Laboratory for System Pathology and Advanced Medicinal Products Mariia Komelkova. “Using computer modelling, we study which of these medicinal compounds are the most promising ones, that is, we choose leading compounds that will be suitable for a particular human protein, and then we test them on living model objects ‑ fish. We examine the toxicity of the resulting substances and their biological effects, such as impacts on memory, anxiety and other reactions.”

Zebrafish have a number of advantages over rodents: they are easy to handle, they quickly reproduce and develop, are infections-safe to work with, and cost the laboratory 200 times less than rats and mice.

The “crown jewel” of the new university laboratory is high-tech equipment for keeping the Danio Rerio fish. This is the first special flow-recirculation system of the Ural Federal District, equipped with mechanical, chemical and biological filters, UV lamps for water sterilization, as well as sensors for automatically maintaining the temperature, water level and hydrochemical parameters. Moreover, the system is equipped with a controller to maintain the day/night light mode. The quality of water for fish is also achieved through preliminary water treatment using a reverse osmosis system. The installation is supplied with water cleaned from mechanical impurities, organic compounds, hardness salts and pathogens. The high technical level of the system for keeping fish and monitoring the parameters of the aquatic environment makes it possible to automatically standardize their living conditions and ensure the obtaining of high-quality results that meet the requirements of the world science.

New laboratory equipment and Zebrafish model organisms open up a wide field for interdisciplinary collaboration among scientific teams of SUSU and other universities, who need to conduct experiments on biological objects for their research studies.


Ekaterina Bolnykh; photo by: Sergei Kachko
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