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Fruit Fly Roundup

April 19, 2013

Fruit flies are providing researchers with insights into wound healing and Parkinson’s disease.



Guinea pig fruit flies. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cuts, burns and other serious wounds affect 180 million Americans each year. Researchers from UC San Diego and the City College of New York are studying fruit flies to understand wound healing. Even though human skin and fruit fly chitin are very different, the enzymes and other molecules brought to bear in healing are common to both species.  The team recently found eight genes involved in healing that weren’t previously suspected. Now they’re figuring out what those same genes do in humans. The goal is to find new treatments for difficult to heal wounds.

In other fruitfly news, scientists at Tel Aviv University are using fruitflies to test a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. They’re finding that the compound mannitol can restore the function of a key brain protein impaired in Parkinson’s. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Fruit flies offer many clues to human disease. (André Karwath/Wikipedia)