The humble fruit flies are once again coming to the aid of mankind. Scientists may now have better idea of the plaque-like formations in Huntington's disease.
New research, published in the journal GENETICS describes a laboratory test that allows scientists to evaluate large numbers of fruit fly genes for a possible role in the formation of plaque-like protein aggregates within cells. Those genes often have counterparts in humans, which might then be manipulated to stop or slow the formation of plaque-like protein aggregates, the hallmark of Huntington's and several other neurodegenerative diseases.
"Aggregate formations are closely linked to aging and brain diseases," said Sheng Zhang, Ph.D, a researcher involved in the work from the Research Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "We hope our study will not only help to uncover how the formation of aggregates is regulated in a cell, but also help find good drug-development targets. Then, we can find ways to slow down plaque formations during aging and prevent and treat aggregates-related brain diseases, which are a pressing challenge to a modern society that is enjoying a longer life expectancy."
"The genetic overlap between humans and fruit flies continues to be a treasure trove for scientific discoveries," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of GENETICS. "One hundred years ago, no one would have ever thought that research on a fly's brain could lead to medicines for human brains, but this research is a perfect example of this possibility."