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Fruit Fly Phlebotomy

April 21, 2008

A new technique can draw pure blood from a single fruit fly.


Getting blood from a fruit fly. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The tiny fruit fly is a popular guinea pig for genetic research – but just try strapping one of them down for a blood sample. Until now, researchers have had to squeeze dozens of flies at once to get enough blood to study. But now, scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have extracted blood from a single fruit fly larva, collecting as little as 50 billionths of a liter with an ultra-thin vacuum tube. Analytical chemist Scott Shippy says the technique could help scientists study human tissue as well, like the retinal cells in the eye.

SCOTT SHIPPY (University of Illinois at Chicago):
When there are retinal diseases, it generally isn’t across the whole retina; there are many cases where there are small hotspots or regions where it’s clear that something is going wrong.

He says isolating fluid from those tiny hotspots could help scientists pinpoint how the diseases start. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.