Pigs, jellyfish and zebrafish don't seem to have much in common with each other, much less humans, but the different species are all pieces of a puzzle which is helping to solve the riddles of diseases in humans - like hereditary forms of diseases affecting the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, autism, epilepsy and the motor neurone disease ALS.
In a new project, Aarhus University scientists focused on a specific gene in pigs. The gene, SYN1, encodes the protein synapsin, which is involved in communication between nerve cells. Synapsin almost exclusively occurs in nerve cells in the brain. Parts of the gene can thus be used to control an expression of genes connected to hereditary versions of the aforementioned disorders.