Fruit Flies Help Study Effect of Cocaine and Other Drugs on Brain

Fruit Flies Help Study Effect of Cocaine and Other Drugs on Brain

New research suggests that fruit flies, which are already used to study dozens of human diseases, could be used as a simpler and more convenient model for studying the effects of cocaine and other drugs on the brain. The study appears online in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, a new monthly journal.

Science Daily reports that Andrew Ewing and colleagues note that laboratory mice, rats, and monkeys have been mainstays in research with the ultimate goal of finding effective medicines for treating addiction. Although these mammals have helped establish the behavioral effects of cocaine on the body, they provide relatively complicated models to study the effects of cocaine and other illicit drugs on the brain and nerves. In the hope for a new, simpler animal model they turned to fruit flies, which have many biological similarities to mammals but are easier to study.

The scientists confirmed those hopes in research that involved giving cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate to fruit flies and then studying brain chemistry with a microelectrode one-twentieth the diameter of a human hair. The results demonstrate that fruit flies are a valid model for studying drug addiction in humans, the scientists say.

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