Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Addressing pain and disease on the fly: How fruit flies can teach us about curing chronic pain and halting mosquito-borne diseases

Date:
December 8, 2011
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
Studies of a protein that fruit flies use to sense heat and chemicals may someday provide solutions to human pain and the control of disease-spreading mosquitoes. Researchers have discovered how fruit flies distinguish the warmth of a summer day from the pungency of wasabi by using TRPA1, a protein whose human relative is critical for pain and inflammation.

The fruit fly senses pungent chemicals in its food using mechanisms shared with those critical for human pain and inflammation.
Credit: Kyeongjin Kang and Paul Garrity

Studies of a protein that fruit flies use to sense heat and chemicals may someday provide solutions to human pain and the control of disease-spreading mosquitoes.

In the current issue of the journal Nature, biologist Paul Garrity of the National Center for Behavioral Genomics at Brandeis University and his team, spearheaded by KyeongJin Kang and Vince Panzano in the Garrity lab, report how fruit flies distinguish the warmth of a summer day from the pungency of wasabi by using TRPA1, a protein whose human relative is critical for contolling pain and inflammation.

In earlier research Garrity's team showed that flies, like humans, sense chemical irritants with TRPA1, indicating an ancient origin for harmful chemical sensing. In 2008, the team demonstrated that this protein serves a second function in flies: sensing warmth.

Gentle warmth and nasty chemicals trigger distinct responses. How can both responses rely on the same sensor? The team has now discovered that there is an easy answer. Insects actually make two forms of TRPA1, one specialized for each task.

What is the significance of this new research?

Such TRPA1 specialization has implications for devising bug sprays and traps to combat the transmission of diseases like malaria, dengue and West Nile virus. "This work on TRPA1 can explain how blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes discriminate noxious chemicals, which repel them, from the warmth of a human, which attracts them," says Garrity. "By activating one kind of TRPA1 you might be able to deter mosquitoes from biting you, while activating the other kind of TRPA1 might lure mosquitoes to a trap."

These findings also have implications for understanding the way that human damage-sensing neurons work, explains Garrity. Since human TRPA1 is a drug target aimed at treating diseases such as asthma, migraines, and chronic pain, Garrity says it's important to understand how TRPA1 proteins operate.

"Fruit flies are easy to work with in the lab and this lets us test hypotheses about how TRPA1 operates quickly and relatively cheaply." Says Garrity. "Fortunately, the function of TRPA1 seems evolutionarily ancient and conserved from flies to mosquitoes to humans, so one can gain insights of general biomedical relevance using flies."

"Untreatable chronic pain and insect-borne diseases are two major human health problems," says Garrity. "When you think about basic research translating into treatments to help people, work in these areas has tremendous potential for easing human misery."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kyeongjin Kang, Vincent C. Panzano, Elaine C. Chang, Lina Ni, Alexandra M. Dainis, Adam M. Jenkins, Kimberly Regna, Marc A. T. Muskavitch, Paul A. Garrity. Modulation of TRPA1 thermal sensitivity enables sensory discrimination in Drosophila. Nature, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nature10715

Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "Addressing pain and disease on the fly: How fruit flies can teach us about curing chronic pain and halting mosquito-borne diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206151540.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2011, December 8). Addressing pain and disease on the fly: How fruit flies can teach us about curing chronic pain and halting mosquito-borne diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206151540.htm
Brandeis University. "Addressing pain and disease on the fly: How fruit flies can teach us about curing chronic pain and halting mosquito-borne diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111206151540.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The new drug from Novartis could reduce cardiovascular deaths by 20 percent compared to other similar drugs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins