EBRI scientist collaborated to an important study on the genetics of ageing
A paper recently published on the journal "Cell", reveals that a small vertebrate has the same ageing genes as human. The Nothobranchius furzeri, a small fish living in seasonal ponds in Mozambique, is the vertebrate with the shortest lifespan known so far. During its short life, it develops the same pathologies affecting aged people: cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegeneration. The research was a collaboration between: Leibniz Institute in Jena (Germany), Fondazione EBRI and Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Ivan Arisi, responsible of Bioinformatics at EBRI Genomics Facility, was part of the project and co-authored the article: his contribution focused on the analysis of microRNA sequencing. The N. furzeri genome was completely mapped after years of work. After 3 weeks of life this fish reaches sexual maturity and in few months it reaches the end of its lifecycle. It was demonstrated that genetic programs of embryonic and ageing phases are very similar. To adapt to environmental changes, N. furzeri is able to stop embryonic development in a stage called diapause, when the ponds where it lives are drying. << This research can provide an important contribution to the development of new drugs for ageing related diseases including Alzheimer's>> claims Antonino Cattaneo, head of Neurotrophic Factors and Neurodegenerative Diseases laboratory at EBRI and Director Bio@SNS laboratory at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. The fish N. furzeri, now with a detailed genome annotation, is likely to become a new model organism to study development, ageing and interactions with the environment.