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 Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>