Genetic researchers at the University of Rochester have created a mutant fruit fly that lives for an extraordinarily long period of time . The fly has unexpectedly led the team of researchers down an interesting route when it comes to the treatment of diabetes.
The fly allows researchers to better understand the basic mechanisms behind metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and why diabetes occurs more as bodies grow older. Indeed, the fly could help determine why people live as long as they do. The research team have been buoyed by a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in order to push their studies into the next stage.
The fly, who lives 40 per cent longer than the average, has important implications for future treatment of humans. The researchers are going to discuss how far at two important European conferences in Sweden and Crete .
The scientists found that increased JNK in a fly increases antioxidant levels, protecting them from the free radical movement that ages all things. One researcher at the head of the study said: “This research isn’t so much about making people live to 120 as it is about preventing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s . We’re trying to identify the mechanisms that cause damage to our body as we age, and prevent them. This has opened a new playing field for people in aging research. We continue to be amazed at how similar a fruit fly is to a person. We can accomplish the same thing in fruit flies that we would only be able to do with a lot more money, taking a lot longer, in other ways. And many of these experiments could never be done in people or even mice. Working first in fruit flies speeds up the process toward finding potential treatments or cures for diseases like cancer .”

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