Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research sheds new light on body parts’ sensitivity to environmental changes

22.11.2011
Research by a team of Michigan State University scientists has shed new light on why some body parts are more sensitive to environmental change than others, work that could someday lead to better ways of treating a variety of diseases, including Type-2 diabetes.

The research, led by assistant zoology professor Alexander Shingleton, is detailed in the recent issue of the Proceedings of the Library of Science Genetics.

In particular, Shingleton is studying the genetics of fruit flies and zeroing in on why some of the insects’ body parts will grow to full size even when suffering from malnutrition, while others will not. He uses fruit flies because they use the same genes to control this process as humans.

“The developmental mechanisms by which these changes in body proportion are regulated are really unknown,” Shingleton said.

Shingleton said that in humans, a person’s brain will grow to near full size despite malnutrition or other environmental, or nongenetic, problems.

If scientists can figure out why some organs or body parts are either overly sensitive or insensitive to environmental factors, then it’s possible that therapies could be developed to deal with any number of maladies.

“If we know how we can control sensitivity to environmental issues such as malnutrition, we can, in principle, manipulate genes that are regulating that sensitivity,” Shingleton said. “Genes can be activated so they can actually restore sensitivity.”

Type-2 diabetes is a good example of the body’s insensitivity to nongenetic issues. The most common form of diabetes, Type-2, occurs when the body becomes insensitive to insulin, which is released in response to blood sugar levels. The body needs insulin to be able to use glucose for energy.

“In diabetes, that response is suppressed,” Shingleton said. “We get desensitization. We know people become insulin resistant, but we’re not quite sure why.”

What Shingleton and colleagues discovered is that even when malnourished, the genitals of a male fruit fly continue to grow to normal size.

“The same developmental mechanism that a fly uses to make its genitals insensitive to changes in nutrition may be the same that we as humans use to modulate the responsiveness of individual body parts to changes in nutrition,” he said. “Our job is to try to understand why some body parts are responsive to changes in nutrition and others aren’t.”

Using the fruit fly for this type of research “gives us enormous information about how we as humans work and how we respond to our environment,” Shingleton said. “This provides information on biomedical issues that arise from things like malnutrition or insulin resistance.”

Shingleton’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation and MSU’s Bio/computational and Evolution in Action Consortium, or BEACON.

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

Tom Oswald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>