Hyderabad: CCMB researchers use fruit flies to find a cure for microcephaly

Does a tiny fruit fly have the potential to make us understand the mysteries of human brain development?

Hyderabad: Does a tiny fruit fly have the potential to make us understand the mysteries of human brain development?

To better comprehend how the human brain develops and find treatment, researchers from Hyderabad have genetically mutated fruit flies to have small brains, a lethal developmental brain disorder also known as microcephaly.

The fruit fly brain has molecular similarities with the human brain. And, genetically mutated fruit flies with small brain can enable researchers to develop therapeutics for the medical condition among infants.

Microcephaly is a lethal condition caused due to underdevelopment of brain during pregnancy. Once a baby is born with small brain, then there is no standard form of treatment for this medical condition.

As a result, babies will struggle to develop their normal physical and mental abilities for a lifetime. To understand this medical condition better and find a potential cure, geneticists from Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), including Aishwarya Arun, a neurodevelopmental biology specialist in Dr Sonal Nagarkar Jaisewal’s laboratory, has undertaken this unique research on small brain by employing fruit flies.

The genes that cause small brain condition in fruit flies are also present in human beings and their mutations also lead to microcephaly. Some of these mutations impact the neural stem cell size, causing abnormal cell division or even untimely death of stem cells.

Scientists worldwide are involved in utilising fruit flies in understanding and trying to develop treatments for intellectual disabilities due to lack of brain development in human beings.

The CCMB researcher pointed out the behaviour of fruit flies with small brain has the potential to offer a model system that will enable to test potential drugs for treating brain-related diseases.

There are multiple cutting- edge studies and peerreviewed research papers that have revealed deep similarities in how brain regulates behaviour in flies and humans. In fact, in a fruit fly, there are nearly 1 lakh neurons (compared to billions in human brain) that provide ideal conditions for research to understand the human brain better.