What does serotonin have in common with zebrafish? It appears that, according to a new study, this mood-enhancing hormone may be able to help zebrafish recover from a spinal cord injury.

The study, published recently in the journal Cell Reports, notes that serotonin sends signals found in the spinal cord to boost the growth of new motor neurons, which are vital to controlling muscle activity and movement, according to a media release from University of Edinburgh.

Researchers are studying zebrafish because zebrafish are able to heal themselves from spinal cord injury by growing new motor neurons from stem cells present in the spinal cord.

It is hoped that the findings from this study could help scientists to grow motor neurons in the laboratory that could be used in studies aimed at better understanding neurological conditions, the release explains.

Study author Thomas Becker, PhD, from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Neuroregeneration and the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research, says in the release that, “Understanding how zebrafish are able to repair damaged nerves could one day help us to trigger similar mechanisms in human stem cells.”

“Our hope is that this may eventually lead to new treatments for conditions such as motor neuron disease, for which there is no cure,” he adds.

[Source(s): University of Edinburgh, Science Daily]