Zebrafish, noted for their hardy nature and regenerative abilities, now serve as a crucial model organism in regards to obesity and diabetes management drugs.

A group of UCSF researchers led by Dr. Phillipp Gut and Dr. Didier Stainier recently demonstrated the use of the small translucent zebrafish in screening for drugs to help control various metabolic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.

Last week’s Nature Chemical Biology journal highlights the new chemical compound discovered from a panel of over 2,400 different medications tested with the zebrafish. The panel was designed to pinpoint a state of “fasting metabolism,” the state that people enter on a regular basis between meals during the slow process of digestion.

This sate of “fasting metabolism” is the body’s natural method of keeping active by burning stored fat in the body.  However, in cases of individuals with diabetes and obesity, this fasting state is disrupted.

Of the 2,400 compounds Gut and his team tested, two completely transformed genes and allowed for rapid metabolism and more effective methods of fat burning. Further experiments with these compounds will be followed through with on obese mice in an attempt to protect the from any and all metabolic complications.