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The buzz on fruit flies: New role in the search for addiction treatments

Date:
December 21, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Fruit flies may seem like unlikely heroes in the battle against drug abuse, but new research suggests that these insects -- already used to study dozens of human disease -- could claim that role. Scientists are reporting that fruit flies can be used as a simpler and more convenient animal model for studying the effects of cocaine and other drugs of abuse on the brain.

A tiny electrode and pipette inserted into the fruit fly brain make it a simple, convenient model for studying drug abuse in humans.
Credit: American Chemical Society

Fruit flies may seem like unlikely heroes in the battle against drug abuse, but new research suggests that these insects -- already used to study dozens of human disease -- could claim that role. Scientists are reporting that fruit flies can be used as a simpler and more convenient animal model for studying the effects of cocaine and other drugs of abuse on the brain.

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Their study appears online in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, a new monthly journal.

Andrew Ewing and colleagues note that laboratory mice, rats, and monkeys have been mainstays in research with the ultimate goal of finding effective medicines for treating addiction. Although these mammals have helped establish the behavioral effects of cocaine on the body, they provide relatively complicated models to study the effects of cocaine and other illicit drugs on the brain and nerves. In the hope for a new simpler animal model they turned to fruit flies, which have many biological similarities to mammals, but are easier to study.

The scientists confirmed those hopes in research that involved giving cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate to fruit flies and then studying brain chemistry with a microelectrode one-twentieth the diameter of a human hair. The results demonstrate that fruit flies are a valid model for studying drug addiction in humans, the scientists say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Makos et al. Using in Vivo Electrochemistry To Study the Physiological Effects of Cocaine and Other Stimulants on the Drosophila melanogaster Dopamine Transporter. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2009; 091026104139091 DOI: 10.1021/cn900017w

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "The buzz on fruit flies: New role in the search for addiction treatments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202114048.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, December 21). The buzz on fruit flies: New role in the search for addiction treatments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202114048.htm
American Chemical Society. "The buzz on fruit flies: New role in the search for addiction treatments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202114048.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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