Gadsden State offers program for Zebrafish testing studies

Cures for cancer, and any other illnesses come out of research. For years, rats and moneys have been used in laboratories. Now, some researchers are instead using the Zebrafish.{} Wednesday through Friday, dozens of researchers from across the country have gathered at Gadsden State Community College to learn more about what the Zebrafish offers. This is the first "hands-on" workshop for Zebrafish training in the nation. Zebrafish are being used more widely in research efforts because they are less expensive and reproduce much faster than mice or rats. Perhaps most important, the testing done on these fish can help lead to cures for genetic diseases, including birth defects and all cancers. "This is a first, this is the only facility in the world that is doing this," says{}Hugh Hammer, program coordinator for the aquaculture department.{} Hammer knows Zebrafish are in high demand for biomedical research.{} "Fish are the fastest growing research model next to mice and are used for more procedures more than any other animal except for mice for biomedical research,"{}says Hammer.That fact prompted the creation of the Zebrafish husbandry education program."All the biomedical mechanisms are the same, all the biochemical mechanisms all work the same,"{}Hammer says.{}"There are a lot of advantages, because they lay their eggs externally, it's a lot easier to do genetic work with embryos. They can do what they call micro injections where they take an embryo that was fertilized this morning and they can inject dna they can insert genes or delete genes into those fish immediately."One of the co-sponsors of this program is UAB. Susan Farmer serves as co-director of UAB's Zebrafish facility.{} Farmer explains, "This has been something that the Zebrafish research community has been asking for, for the last ten years now."As{}part of the three day workshop at Gadsden State, participants work in small groups, rotating through different stations. These stations focus on topics including, spawning, water chemistry, cleaning and disinfection. Dr. George Sanders is one of the guest lecturers.{}He made the trip to Gadsden from the University of Washington in Seattle.{} Sanders says, "The key is that we want to make sure that we can help standardize how it's cared for and reared, so that the results people are having in different labs are similar. So, part of this is tied to that."The popularity of this program is so high that they are already looking at planning another one for next year. They're still working on an online course.{}