"Without bromine, there are no animals. That's the discovery," Billy Hudson, Ph.D., the paper's senior author and Elliott V. Newman Professor of Medicine said.
The researchers, led by co-first authors Scott McCall, Christopher Cummings, Ph.D., and Gautam (Jay) Bhave, M.D., Ph.D., showed that fruit flies died when bromine was removed from their diet but survived when bromine was restored.
This finding has important implications for human disease.
"Multiple patient groups ... have been shown to be bromine deficient," McCall, an M.D./Ph.D. student said.
Bromine supplementation may improve the health of patients on dialysis or total parenteral nutrition (TPN), for example.
The report is the latest in a series of landmark papers by the Vanderbilt group that have helped define how collagen IV scaffolds undergird the basement membrane of all tissues, including the kidney's filtering units.
The findings are published by the journal Cell.