Research Projects

Using Killifish to study Alzheimer’s disease in the lab

Awarded to:
Dr Vasanta Subramanian

Current award:

University of Bath

4 April 2022 - 3 April 2023

Full project name:

Developing the African Turquoise killifish (N. furzeri) as a model for Alzheimer's Disease






Dementia researchers rely on experimental techniques that replicate the conditions of human diseases like Alzheimer’s in the lab. To do this, they sometimes work with animals to find new targets for treatments or to understand disease progression in more detail.

African turquoise killifish are small fish which age rapidly, due to a short lifespan of a few months. This makes them good candidates for studying age-related diseases, since researchers can observe changes in the fish and gather data in a shorter time. They also display more similarities to human aging compared to other short-lived species used for research, such as flies.

What will they do?

Dr Vasanta Subramanian from the University of Bath aims to introduce features of Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia to these fish so that researchers will have a new way to study these diseases.

To do this, Dr Subramanian will genetically modify the killifish to allow her team to spot and monitor signs of Alzheimer’s in the fish. For example, this will include making amyloid proteins glow so that the team can see where amyloid plaques form in the fish as they age. The team will also develop new methods for detecting Alzheimer’s proteins with precision in the fish.

Adapting the killifish for dementia research will be a useful asset for future studies. These may include identifying new targets for therapeutics or even testing possible treatments for Alzheimer’s or frontotemporal dementia. The short lifespan of the killifish makes it easier to repeat experiments and allows researchers to gather more data. This will accelerate dementia research efforts and could help researchers make even more exciting discoveries.

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