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UD researchers collaborate on Alzheimer’s study with fruit flies

September 4, 2013

Originally published Nov. 7, 2011

Amit Singh, assistant professor of biology, worked with University of Dayton collaborator Madhuri Kango-Singh, pre-med and graduate students and other researchers at the University of Florida to investigate early detection of the disease, which afflicts an estimated 5.4 million Americans.

Using the fruit fly’s eye as a model, the research team discovered that memory loss can likely be prevented by blocking the death of cells through the manipulation of a key gene, according to the university.

Researchers found that a stress-activated protein contributes to cell death, and that its pathway can be blocked. They’re now collaborating with UD biologist Panagiotis Tsonis in testing 3,000 different drugs on the fruit flies to find candidates for stopping the death of neuronal cells in the fly eye.

“Alzheimer’s is often detected very late, once the damage has been done,” Singh said. “Scientists are looking into early detection, before you start seeing signs of cognitive decline.”

The research is published in PLoS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed online journal.

Singh continues to research the genetics of fruit flies to understand birth defects, such as pediatric blindness and retinal diseases with a two-year $218,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. And recently, Thomas Williams, another assistant biology professor at UD, was awarded a $132,000 grant from the American Heart Association to aid in researching genetic changes in fruit flies that translate to increased heart disease risk and other health issues in humans.

Reprinted with permission of the Dayton Business Journal.