Tiny fish hold big hopes for childhood dementia

Posted 5 Dec 2023
Flinders researchers hope tiny zebrafish could hold the key to preventing childhood dementia.

Generous supporters of Flinders Foundation have provided Dr Karissa Barthelson with a research seed grant to study changes in the metabolism of zebrafish which are genetically modified to resemble Alzheimer's disease or Sanfilippo Syndrome – a type of childhood dementia.

“The idea is that if we can isolate the exact point that metabolism slows, and we can stop those changes from happening or supplement the pathway at that point, perhaps with something dietary, then we might be able to slow, halt, or even prevent dementia,” Dr Barthelson explains.

“When I first learned about Sanfilippo it truly broke my heart,” Dr Barthelson says.

“I keep the families of these children in mind all the time with my work – they desperately want a cure, or even something that can slow or delay the disease progression to give them a few extra years, because right now sadly there is nothing.”

Zebrafish are the focus of Dr Barthelson’s study because they possess a simpler nervous system compared with humans, so what’s occurring in their cells can be more easily examined.


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