While the platform will save hundreds of lives of the fish, it could also play a key role in better understanding the functions of the brain in pre-clinical neurobehavioral studies.
In a remarkable development researchers from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering chose the zebrafish to be their virtual lab rats since they are genetically similar to us, humans.
The researchers event developed a virtual alternative for the freshwater minnows by developing a platform that simulates them swimming in 3 dimension. Amazingly the system is so accurate that it can actually replace a live Zebrafish in experiments.
Although in 2015, the platform started as a 2D model, in its current iteration it features heightened sophistications and features such niceties such as speed modulation, burst-and-coast swimming style of zebrafish and wall interaction.
Although critics of the system could say, this would make a wonderful screensaver, but to prove that this could actually work in a work scenario, the researchers admittedly said, “can’t entirely replace animal testing,” however it could help decrease the number of animals used in the lab.
To prove that their platform is realistic enough, the researchers had it process data thus capturing the speed at which Zebrafish swim. Based on the simulations, their platform concluded that the speed at which Zebrafish swim depends on the size of their tank.
Alternatively, it would take thousands of hours along with thousands of animals to draw this conclusion.
The platform could be ideal for pre-clinical stage research, especially those involving neurobehavioral studies which are critical to helping us understand how the brain functions.
The researchers are now upgrading the model to include other factors such as social interactions and responses to engineered and live stimuli.