Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Addressing pain and disease on the fly

07.12.2011
How fruit flies can teach us about curing chronic pain and halting mosquito-borne diseases

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.

Susan Chaityn Lebovits | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brandeis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Embryonic development: How do limbs develop from cells?
18.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht Reading histone modifications, an oncoprotein is modified in return
18.05.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>