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New zebrafish role found for human studies

SAN DIEGO, May 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. scientist says he's found a new role for zebrafish in human studies -- as an animal model for an enzyme found in people's brains.

University of California-San Diego Research Professor Michael Baker said he discovered zebrafish -- an important animal model in disease and environmental studies -- can help in studying the function of a mysterious enzyme linked to the steroid cortisol, and found in the human brain.

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Baker said steroids such as cortisol perform a variety of duties, including regulating immune response, bone formation and brain activity. High levels of the steroids have been linked to type 2 diabetes and might impair the brain's ability to store memories.

Baker said he found zebrafish can be a useful analog for studying fish endocrine physiology.

He reports his findings in the June 3 issue of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies journal Letters.

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