The BiomedAqu project will work with 15 different lines of research for bone diseases

Researchers from ten international universities and representatives of the aquaculture industry are meeting today and tomorrow in a mini-congress organised by the University Institute ECOAQUA of the ULPGC at the Taliarte Science and Technology Park, in Gran Canaria, to present the initial phases of their research projects in bone studies.

Bringing together the experience of experts in the field of aquaculture with different research approaches in the biomedical sector is the aim of the European project BiomedAqu. Around 50 scientists, industry professionals and students are meeting on Thursday and Friday in Gran Canaria in a cycle of conferences organized by the Aquaculture Research Group of the University Institute of Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC). 

About thirty of them will be directly involved in the BiomedAqu project until July 2022, in the fifteen lines of research that are opened to solve bone diseases in humans, using fish as models of experimentation.

According to Marc Muller, professor at the University of Liège and coordinator of the European project, "skeletal anomalies are a continuous problem in farmed fish, affecting fish welfare, yield and product quality. At the same time, human skeletal pathologies are a growing concern in our ageing population, which has led to research using the tools offered by small fish models, such as zebrafish.

"In our specific case, in Liège, we are studying the identification of genes that are related to pathologies such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis", chronic, degenerative diseases, which are accompanied by pain and progressive functional limitation. "We have already obtained some positive results in this sense, although research of this type can take years to find effective solutions. Therefore  we estimate that we still have five or ten years of work in this field to find an effective remedy," he says.

Not everyone is aware of the fact that progress in many areas of biomedical research is based on the use of several species of fish as models, due to the high similarities between their genome and that of the human being. The biological characteristics of these fish, which do not age, make them ideal models for studying diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer or heart disease, as well as in the field of regenerative medicine.

The BiomedAqu network participating in this mini-congress in Taliarte, is made up of 8 European universities, a US research hospital and a Biology Institute. Specifically, they are the University of Liège, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Algarve, the University of Münster (Westphalia), the University of Ghent, the Polytechnic University of Marche, the University of Paris VII Denis-Diderot, the Boston Children's Hospital attached to Harvard Medical School, the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria itself, through IU-ECOAQUA.

In addition, companies related to the aquaculture industry and research centres such as Skretting Aquaculture Research Center, the Association of Italian Aquaculture Producers, Artialis, Sparos or Necton are also involved.

Together they cover multiple disciplines including Aquaculture, Anatomy, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, Orthopedics, Biophysics, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, Morphometry, Geometry, Molecular Biology, or Nutrition, among others.