Fruit Flies Reveal Surprising Findings About Impact of Meth on Human Body
A potentially vital part of methamphetamine research comes in a very tiny package – the fruit fly. Researchers are studying the impact of methamphetamines on the molecular function of fruit flies, and looking to see what other systems are affected, in hopes of learning more about how the drug impacts human systems and pathways – and encountering surprising findings, including some related to cancer research.
The research team from the University of Illinois said that the structures and pathways through which chemical reactions happen in fruit flies are close to those of many living things, including people. The systemic impact of methamphetamine can be studied because the fruit flies systems are so compact, according to a Medical News Today report.
The impac of meth on the fruit flies’ systems have proven to be vast and surprising. The way the flies generate energy, process sugar, form reproductive cells, and the way their muscles relate to skeleton and respiration are all affected by meth. In addition, unexpected breaks and interruptions in processes at the cell levels were noted, as well as unanticipated impacts on molecular structures.
One of the most impactful findings include researchers’ observations that meth impacts the energy metabolism function in cells in a similar way as cancer modifies cells as it grows. They hope that by learning more about this process, they can learn more about how cancer attacks and damages cells.
Sugar is also a key element of the research. Meth addicts often crave sugar when they are "high," and researchers discovered that the fruit flies who were exposed to meth extended their lives when they were given trehalose, an insect type of blood sugar.
As the work continues, the team believes fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) offer tremendous potential to understand how meth affects the body, as well as to open doors to other types of human health research.