Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flies offer insight into human metabolic disease

01.06.2010
Commonalities between flies and humans make a valuable new model for galactosemia
Galactosemia is a metabolic disease resulting from an inherited defect that prevents the proper metabolism of galactose, a sugar commonly found in dairy products, like milk. Exposure of affected people to galactose, can damage most of their organ systems and can be fatal. The ability to study the disease is limited by a lack of animal models. New information suggests that similarities between humans and flies may provide scientists with useful clues.

The inability to breakdown simple sugars in common foods, such as milk, can lead to the accumulation of sugars in the blood, which become toxic and damaging to a variety of organ systems. People with galactosemia, either classic galactosemia or epimerase deficiency galactosemia, have genetic mutations that decrease their levels of the key enzymes (GALT and GALE) responsible for the metabolism of a common form of dietary sugar. Without proper levels of these proteins, these people are unable to process the sugar, galactose, which makes up about half of the calories in milk. Both disorders can have severe effects. Patients suffer from liver and brain damage, cataracts, and kidney failure. The disease can be fatal. There is currently no cure and prognosis and treatment remain ill-defined, partly due to the lack of a good animal model that scientists can use to study the disease and to develop potential treatments.

Discovery of treatments for galactosemia is complicated by the unique sensitivities among different organisms to defects in sugar metabolism. For example, galactose accumulation in mice does not have the same physiological consequences as it does in humans, limiting the applicability of mouse models and slowing advances in this area of research. The fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is a popular laboratory model organism that has been used for many decades and in numerous studies, including those of human metabolic disease.

Scientists at Emory University developed flies that carry genetic changes similar to those found in patients with galactosemia. Like patients with classic galactosemia, flies that are missing GALT survive if they are raised on food that does not contain galactose, but die in development if exposed to high levels of galactose. Flies with impaired GALE function also succumb in greater numbers when exposed to galactose during development, similar to patients with defects in the same area of their metabolic pathway. The Emory scientists also tested the relationship between the timing of galactose exposure with the fly's outcome, and designed and characterized flies in which they could remove or control the production of GALT or GALE at variable points in the animal's development to determine when and where the sugar breakdown was most needed. These models can help researchers understand how changes in sugar metabolism lead to disease and open the door to novel drug discovery by serving as a testing ground for candidate therapeutics.

This work is presented in corresponding Research Articles in Volume 3 issue 7/8 of the research journal, Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM), , published by The Company of Biologists, a non-profit organisation based in Cambridge, UK. The first article entitled 'A Drosophila melanogaster model of classic galactosemia, was written Rebekah Kushner, Emily Ryan, Jennifer Sefton, Rebecca Sanders, Patricia Jumbo Lucioni, Kenneth Moberg, and Judith Fridovich-Keil. The second article entitled 'UDP-galactose 4' epimerase (GALE) is essential for development of Drosophila melanogaster' was written by Rebecca Sanders, Jennifer Sefton, Kenneth Moberg, and Judith Fridovich-Keil

About Disease Models & Mechanisms:

Disease Models & Mechanisms (DMM) (http://dmm.biologists.org) is a new research journal, launched in 2008, that publishes primary scientific research, as well as review articles, editorials, and research highlights. The journal's mission is to provide a forum for clinicians and scientists to discuss basic science and clinical research related to human disease, disease detection and novel therapies. DMM is published by the Company of Biologists, a non-profit organization based in Cambridge, UK.

The Company also publishes the international biology research journals Development, Journal of Cell Science, and The Journal of Experimental Biology. In addition to financing these journals, the Company provides grants to scientific societies and supports other activities including travelling fellowships for junior scientists, workshops and conferences. The world's poorest nations receive free and unrestricted access to the Company's journals.

Kristy Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dmm.biologists.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>