York experts ponder Fruit fly insight into Alzheimer's
- 12 October 2011
- From the section York & North Yorkshire
Scientists studying fruit flies say they are being given clues about how the human brain is affected by age.
Researchers from the University of York said their work had given an insight into Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
The team studied Drosophila - a type of fruit fly - and the effects of age-related stress on the nervous system.
The scientists said similar "signalling pathways" to those of the flies existed in human brains.
Their work suggests that the nerve connections grow because of stress and as they grow their ability to communicate is compromised, potentially contributing to reduced brain function. Similar processes are likely to occur in ageing brains.
Dr Sean Sweeney, of the Department of Biology at the University of York, said: "The findings have strong implications for neuronal function as brains age.
"They will also add significantly to our understanding of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease."
The team has been working alongside scientists in the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth.