AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Meningitis Model Shows Infection’s Sci-fi Worthy Creep Into the Brain

Scientists from Duke University are using transparent zebra fish to watch in real-time as Cryptococcal meningitis takes over their brains. The results show how the crippling brain infection — which kills 600,000 people annually — could be disrupted. To be able to target the infection with medications in the future, researchers need to know more about how the organism (technically a yeast), moves from the lungs into the blood stream and through the blood-brain barrier. During the study, they injected the organism into microscopic zebrafish larvae, which have clear bodies, and watched the infection take hold. The newly developed fish model is described in the journal mBio, a journal of the American Society of Microbiology, where a video clip is available to watch as the infection takes over and travels through blood vessels and surrounding tissue. Using a zebrafish to observe the process of infection offers insight into an animal with an immune system somewhat similar to a human’s. The fish are also permeable to small molecules, which will allow scientists to batch-test different drug compounds against the infection relatively quickly and easily. To read more about this study, click here.

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