A similarity in brain disturbance between insects and people suffering from migraines, stroke and epilepsy points the way toward new drug therapies to address these conditions.
Queen's University biologists studying the locust have found that these human disorders are linked by a brain disturbance during which nerve cells shut down. This also occurs in locusts when they go into a coma after exposure to extreme conditions such as high temperatures or lack of oxygen.
The Queen's study shows that the ability of the insects to resist entering the coma, and the speed of their recovery, can be manipulated using drugs that target one of the cellular signaling pathways in the brain.
"This suggests that similar treatments in humans might be able to modify the thresholds or severity of migraine and stroke," says Gary Armstrong, who is completing his PhD research in Biology professor Mel Robertson's laboratory. "What particularly excites me is that in one of our locust models, inhibition of the targeted pathway completely suppresses the brain disturbance in 70 per cent of animals," adds Dr. Robertson.
The Queen's research team previously demonstrated that locusts go into a coma as a way of shutting down and conserving energy when conditions are dangerous. The cellular responses in the locust are similar to the response of brain cells at the onset of a migraine.
Noting that it's hard to drown an insect – due to their ability to remain safely in a coma under water for several hours – Mr. Armstrong says, "It's intriguing that human neural problems may share their mechanistic roots with the process insects use to survive flash floods."
The Queen's study is published in the current edition of the Journal of Neuroscience. Other researchers on the team are Corinne Rodgers and Tomas Money who are also in Dr. Robertson's laboratory. The research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
PLEASE NOTE: A PDF copy of the study is available upon request, as well as high-resolution JPEG images of the locusts. Videos showing induced comas from low oxygen and simulated flash floods can be found at this link: https://qshare.queensu.ca/Users01/9ga1/www/index2.html
Stephanie Earp, 613.533.6000 ext. 79173 email@example.com or
Nancy Dorrance, 613.533.2869 firstname.lastname@example.org, Queen's News and Media Services
Attention broadcasters: Queen's has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston via fibre optic cable. Please call for details.
Queen's biologists are learning from locusts how the human brain may be manipulated to alleviate disease.
Nancy Dorrance | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
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...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
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...
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...
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...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences