Glowing fish help in chemical study

April 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM
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EXETER, England, April 18 (UPI) -- Fish that glow in the dark can help in understanding the damage pollution causes to both wildlife and human health, researchers in Britain say.

Created by researchers from the University of Exeter, the green-glowing zebrafish make it easier than ever before to see where in the body environmental chemicals act and how they affect health, an Exeter release reported Wednesday.

The fluorescent fish have shown that estrogenic chemicals such as Bisphenol A, found in many plastics and already linked to reproductive problems, affect more parts of the body than previously thought, the researchers said.

Numerous studies have linked these "endocrine-disrupting" chemicals, used in a wide range of industrial products and pharmaceuticals, to health problems in wildlife and humans.

The new transgenic zebrafish, when exposed to environmental estrogens, shows where these chemicals work in the body through the production of green fluorescent signals, the scientists said.

"This is a very exciting development in the international effort to understand the impact of estrogenic chemicals on the environment and human health," Exeter researcher Charles Tyler said.

"By being able to localize precisely where different environmental estrogens act in the body, we will be able to more effectively target health effects analyses for these chemicals of concern."

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