Human spinal cord injury is typically a permanent injury that results in a devastating loss of function. There has been much research on promoting regeneration and re-growth of spinal structures, but unfortunately there has been little progress to date.
Certain classes of fish are of interest to spinal cord research because, although their spinal cords are very similar to ours, these classes of fish are capable of spontaneous recovery of both structure and function. A recent review of spinal cord regeneration in fish has summarized the specific factors that may allow for spontaneous recovery in the Teleost fish.
Factors such as increased stem cell generation and recruitment, an overall better response to injury, and a more complementary environment for repair are of interest to researchers who are hoping to find a way to translate these factors into useful treatment for human spinal cord injury.
Sirbulescu RF, & Zupanc GKH. Spinal cord repair in regeneration-competent vertebrates: Adult teleost fish as a model system. Brain Research Reviews. (January 2011).