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Skills and Knowledge Transfer grant

A non-protected larval zebrafish model for the investigation of novel strategies to protect against nerve agent-induced toxicity and seizures

A stock image of round glass dishes containing blue and green liquid arranged closely together.

At a glance

Award date
July 2021 - December 2023
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Dr Matthew Parker


University of Portsmouth
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR



Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to replace the use of rodents in nerve agent research using a non-invasive imaging technique in larval zebrafish.

Nerve agent poisoning requires rapid treatment to prevent long-term damage to the brain, but treatments are not always effective and can in themselves be harmful. New treatments are most commonly tested in rodents. Studies can require surgical procedures to implant electrodes in the brain and are often associated with a high level of suffering and the need for specialist husbandry and care because of the seizures that can occur. As a postdoctoral researcher on an NC3Rs-funded Project grant, Dr Matthew Parker helped develop non-invasive imaging procedures to visualise seizures in larval zebrafish using lightsheet microscopy. At this early stage the embryos are not considered capable of suffering and they therefore provide a partial replacement for the use of other animals.

Matthew aims to enable easier uptake of the larval zebrafish model by adapting the technique to use a standard confocal microscope. He will then transfer this method to users at Dstl (an executive agency of the UK’s Ministry of Defence) to identify novel treatments for nerve agent poisoning and create high-throughput assays to accurately quantify seizures. Dstl will promote the method more widely through collaborations with other military and defense organisations in Australia, the USA and Canada.