I do not want to be hopeful, but take a peek at this little number and tell me what you think:
Zebrafish offer hope for treatment for motor neurone disease
The tiny zebrafish, the tropical freshwater minnow so popular in fishtanks, could hold the key to a cure for motor neurone disease, scientists believe.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 5:17PM BST 29 Apr 2009
The discovery could help patients with MND, in which the motor neurone cells die and are not replaced.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that these fish are able to produce motor neurones, cells that control all muscle activity such as speaking, walking and breathing in humans, when they repair damage to their spinal cords.
By studying this process and harvesting these cells, they hope to treat motor neurone disease sufferers and reverse some of the devastating damage caused by the condition.
Dr Catherina Becker, from the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Neuroregeneration and Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research, said: "Understanding how zebrafish can regenerate large numbers of motor neurones after damage to the spinal cord and how these motor neurones are produced by natural stem cells could help in finding treatments for Motor Neurone Disease.
"This could take the form of improving methods of generating motor neurones in the laboratory that could be transplanted or finding drugs which could help patients renew their motor neurone supply."
The discovery could help patients with MND, in which the motor neurone cells die and are not replaced. This disease can cause paralysis and severe breathing difficulties and is an ultimately fatal condition for which no cure exists.
The team are now screening small molecules with a view to finding drugs that could kick-start the process of motor neurone regeneration in zebrafish, with a view to translating their findings into treatments for humans.
The tropical zebrafish, which are transparent and just over an inch (3cm) long, produce the motor neurones from cells, similar to stem cells, found in the spinal cord that are able to turn into certain types of cells.
As well as looking at stimulating the production of motor neurones, scientists are working on ways to ensure that these cells are able to function by sending messages from the brain to the spine and then on to muscles. The research could also have implications for treating spinal cord injuries following accidents.
MND affects around 5,000 people in this country alone at any one time. In the UK at least five people a day die from MND. Life expectancy for most people with MND is just two to five years, and around half will die within 14 months of diagnosis.
I could wear that well, don't you think?