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Bioessays. 2004 May;26(5):485-96.

Can flies help humans treat neurodegenerative diseases?

Author information

1
Department of Developmental and Cell Biology & Developmental Biology Center, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-2300, USA. jlmarsh@uci.edu

Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases are becoming increasingly common as life expectancy increases. Recent years have seen tremendous progress in the identification of genes that cause these diseases. While mutations have been found and cellular processes defined that are altered in the disease state, the identification of treatments and cures has proven more elusive. The process of finding drugs and therapies to treat human diseases can be slow, expensive and frustrating. Can model organisms such as Drosophila speed the process of finding cures and treatments for human neurodegenerative diseases? We pose three questions, (1) can one mimic the essential features of human diseases in an organism like Drosophila, (2) can one cure a model organisms of human disease and (3) will these efforts accelerate the identification of useful therapies for testing in mice and ultimately humans? Here we focus on the use of Drosophila to identify potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's and we discuss how well these therapies translate into mammalian systems.

PMID:
15112229
DOI:
10.1002/bies.20029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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