Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Dissected Brains of Fruit Flies Provide Clues in Autism Research

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009
Last Updated: Monday, February 02, 2009
Bookmark and Share
A new bioassay methodology identifies drugs that may increase the cognitive functionality of children with mental retardation or autism.

Dr. Linda Restifo in Arizona Research Laboratory's (ARL) Division of Neurobiology has developed a promising methodology that uses fruit fly brains to screen for drugs that may increase the cognitive functionality of children with mental retardation or autism. The fruit fly brain has similar proteins and developmental mechanisms to those in human brains.

Restifo is testing drugs that are already approved by the FDA to determine whether and how well those drugs can change the size or shape of genetically abnormal brain neurons.

In a recently completed experiment, Restifo and her research team found several dozen drugs that straighten out curly brain neurons. The curliness results from lack of a protein that is thought to be important to brain development. The resounding success of the proof-of-concept study suggests a novel strategy for finding safe and effective drug treatments for mental retardation and autism in people.

Restifo is the first to use primary neuron culture for drug screening of this type. To conduct her research, Restifo and members of her lab monitor the size and shape of individual brain cells that have been dissected from the brain of a developing fruit fly at the maggot stage and allowed to grow in a laboratory culture dish. Each group of cells is treated with a single drug. The drugs selected for use by Restifo come from a collection of ~ 1,000 known drugs, most of which are already approved by FDA for other disease uses. In the neuron bioassay, cells are grown for three days and then observed under the microscope for changes the drug has caused in the size or shape of the neurons.

“Nobody is using a brain neuron assay in this way for drug screening.” commented Restifo. “The small size and short life cycle of fruit flies is advantageous at this stage. Over the next several years, we hope to move the experiments to mice and rats and eventually to human trials. It’s gratifying to think our research may identify drugs that help combat the behavioral and cognitive symptoms that affect children with mental retardation and autism. The therapeutic strategy does not promise a cure for autism, but rather the hope is to increase an individual’s functionality.”

“ARL is proud to support Dr. Restifo’s groundbreaking research,” said Michael Cusanovich, ARL Director. “Most assays don’t have a drug development slant and this has enormous potential as a demonstration project. Over the long-term, the fact the drugs in this study are being repurposed and are already FDA approved could make this effort an attractive investment opportunity. Dr. Restifo's medical background coupled with research focus in fruit fly genetics have enabled her to design a tremendously important methodology that may lead to therapeutic treatments for numerous neurological conditions, including autism.”

At the same time Restifo’s research has revealed FDA approved drugs that straighten out neuron curls, she has discovered that certain other drugs increase neuron curliness. Restifo is also currently conducting research to determine if drugs that increase neuron curliness would serve as treatments against certain invasive cancers, such as malignant glioma, the most deadly type of brain cancer. She is using the same neuron-culture methodology for the cancer and the autism projects, in both cases seeking therapeutic agents that change the shape of neurons from the fruit fly brain.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,400+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Advancing Synthetic Biology
Living systems rely on a dizzying variety of chemical reactions essential to development and survival. Most of these involve a specialized class of protein molecules — the enzymes.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Worldwide Resource for Exploring Genes' Hidden Messages
After a decade-long $3 billion international effort, scientists heralded the 2001 completion of the human genome as a moon landing achievement for biology and the key to finally solving intractable diseases like cancer.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Carbon Nanotubes Show Promise for High-Speed Genetic Sequencing
Faster sequencing of DNA holds potential for personalized diagnosis and customized treatment based on each individual's genomic makeup.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Scientific News
Computational Model Finds New Protein-Protein Interactions
Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have discovered 500 new protein-protein interactions (PPIs) associated with genes linked to schizophrenia.
MicroRNA Pathway Could Lead to New Avenues for Leukemia Treatment
Cancer researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found a particular signaling route in microRNA (miR-22) that could lead to targets for acute myeloid leukemia, the most common type of fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Analysis of Dog Genome will Provide Insight into Human Disease
An important model in studying human disease, the non-coding RNA of the canine genome is an essential starting point for evolutionary and biomedical studies – according to a new study led by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC).
New Insights into Gene Regulation
Researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of a gene repression complex that is known to play a role in cancer.
New Blood Test for The Earlier Diagnosis of Breast Cancer Spread
Researchers at University of Westminster have confirmed that a new blood test can detect if breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
GI Problems in Autism May Originate in Genes
Gene linked to autism lowers serotonin activity in mice, slows movement in gut.
Fructose Alters Hundreds of Brain Genes
UCLA scientists report that diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reverse the damage.
First Gene Therapy Successful Against Human Aging
American woman gets biologically younger after gene therapies.
Genetic Variants for Happiness Discovered
VU Amsterdam scientists have found a genetic overlap between happiness and depression.
DNA Barcodes Gone Wild
A team of researchers at University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre and Sinai Health System’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) has developed a new technology that can stitch together DNA barcodes inside a cell to simultaneously search amongst millions of protein pairs for protein interactions.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,400+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!