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Fruit fly immunity fails with fungus after (space)flight
Date:7/3/2014

ting a boost to their Toll pathway response. The exception to enhanced Toll pathway response in hypergravity was in fruit flies with the mutant yuri gagarin gene. This Drosophila mutant immune response mutant studied on Earth was used to distinguish between host and fungal response to gravity. The mutant is named for the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, because it has difficulty sensing gravitational fields. Mutant immune response to fungal infection was the same at normal gravity and hypergravity, indicating an association between gravity and the immune response.

Kimbrell described the possible implications of this increased gravity effect on immunity. The idea that even short-term exposure to increased gravity during a ride on a roller coaster could potentially have a positive effect on immune response in humans comes from the boost demonstrated in fruit fly immunity during hypergravity exposure.

"I'm trying to encourage Drosophila investigators to conduct their research on the space station, not just looking at immunity or following up on our research," said Kimbrell. "I think research in space is very important. Looking further into investigations where fruit flies and other organisms develop in space and are infected in space will start to sort out what is really going on."

Kimbrell is working on a new investigation with fruit flies that she hopes will be selected for study aboard the space station in the future. With research like that of Kimbrell's team, similar future space investigations will help prepare astronauts for long-duration missions farther into the solar system than ever before and bring better understanding of immune system response on Earth.


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Contact: Laura Niles
Laura.E.Niles@nasa.gov
281-244-7069
NASA/Johnson Space Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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