Insight into the locust's brain may offer a novel way to manipulate human brain to stave off diseases like migraines, stroke, and epilepsy, according to Queen's University biologists.
The researchers said that a similarity in brain disturbance between the insect and human sufferers of migraines, stroke, and epilepsy could open pathways for development of new drug therapies.
The study showed that the ability of the insect to resist entering the coma, and the speed of its recovery, can be manipulated using drugs that target one of the cellular signalling pathways in the brain.
"This suggests that similar treatments in humans might be able to modify the thresholds or severity of migraine and stroke," said Gary Armstrong, who is completing his PhD research in Biology professor Mel Robertson's laboratory.
"What particularly excites me is that in one of our locust models, inhibition of the targeted pathway completely suppresses the brain disturbance in 70 per cent of animals," Dr. Robertson added.
The same researchers previously showed that locusts go into a coma as a way of shutting down and conserving energy, when conditions are dangerous.
The cellular responses in the locust are similar to the response of brain cells at the onset of a migraine.