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Fruit fly avoidance mechanism could lead to new ways to control pain in humans
Date:5/11/2008

ged the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with unprecedented sensitivity.

Analysis techniques have lagged behind image acquisition technology, said Sornborger. This work addresses that gap. With our methods we have been able to image the inner workings of the nervous systems in real time amid massive amounts of data.

Fruit flies cant really stay in the rotting fruit where they are laid. Not only do they risk drowning in the ripening fluid, they are increasingly exposed to harmful microorganisms that can kill them. To escape, the larvae wander out and burrow into the ground.

One interesting finding is that the change from eating to non-eating is controlled by a timing mechanism that switches on a fructose sensor and involves a channel protein called PAIN, known to respond to noxious stimuli such as heat and horseradish.

While all this may seem extremely specialized since it involves fruit flies, thats far from the case, Shen and Sornborger said. The molecules at work in this system have counterparts in mammalian models that have been implicated in many psychological processes and behaviors such as the response to food and alcohol and the suppression of anxiety and pain.

Understanding the system in the fly could therefore lead to the development of new pain relievers that might do far less harm to the organism involved while shutting down pain at its most basic level. And that would be quite a gift from a fly.


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Contact: Phil Williams
phil@franklin.uga.edu
706-542-8501
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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