You are here

Alzheimer's clues in fruit fly study

Alzheimer's clues in fruit fly study
5th September 2007

Studying highly-detailed images of fruit flies is giving scientists insights into human brain function.

Using an imaging technique called optical projection tomography, scientists from the Medical Research Council have generated 3D images of the inside of a fruit fly for the first time.

Lead researcher Dr Mary O'Connell said that her team had used the images to build upon existing knowledge about the fly genes which cause brain disease in a similar way to certain human genes.

She commented: "Neurodegeneration, the gradual loss of function of brain cells that occurs in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone diseases, isn't a strictly human phenomenon. Insects are affected by it too.

"In the autumn, bees and wasps often develop erratic behaviour before they die."

Dr O'Connell added: "The shape and size of organs can be affected by diseases like diabetes so imaging may yield clues to further our understanding of other conditions too."