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Blocking brain diseases in fruit flies

The death of nerve cells in the brain, common in motor neuron disease (MND) and dementia (FTD), can be blocked by feeding fruit flies a molecule that penetrates their cells, a new UK study has found.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield saw that a small molecule, called a peptide, could be given to flies in their food to prevent harmful gene mutations, and therefore stop specific types of neurons from dying.

The team also found that this method could improve the function of those neurons in the flies, and hope that the peptide may one day be given to human patients instead of conventional drugs, which tend not to pass effectively into the brain.

Dr Brian Dickie at the Motor Neuron Disease Association, commented about the study: “This work has provided important evidence in support of a completely new strategy to treat the most common inherited cause of both MND and FTD, with the ultimate goal of developing effective therapies for these devastating diseases.”


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