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NIGMS's Living Labs

Simple, easy-to-breed organisms are a very important part of medical research because their body chemistry is remarkably similar to ours.

Worms

Worm

Harmless roundworms found in soil now live in lab dishes, helping scientists discover fundamental mechanisms involved in cancer, aging, and the nervous system.

 

Photo courtesy of NIGMS

Fruit Fly

Fruit Fly

Researchers have used fruit flies to uncover many basic processes in genetics. Today, flies also play a part in studies of blindness, deafness, mental retardation, heart disease, and other human disorders.

 

Photo courtesy of NIGMS

Mouse

Mouse

Genetic engineering allows scientists to create specific strains of mice that reveal the functions of specific genes. Some mouse strains are models for human genetic diseases, increasing knowledge about how the conditions arise and serving as testbeds for possible treatments.

Photo courtesy of NIGMS

Zebrafish

Zebrafish

Zebrafish eggs and embryos are transparent, meaning that scientists can actually watch development unfold. In just a few days, the cells form eyes, heart, liver, stomach, and other parts of the baby fish's body.

 

Photo courtesy of NIGMS

Alison Davis, Ph.D., is an NIH science writer and editor.

Read More "Building Blocks of Medical Research" Articles
Discovery for Health / Behind the Curtain / Fruit Flies Help Human Sleep Research / NIGMS's Living Labs

Summer 2007 Issue: Volume 2 Number 3 Page 24