Project/blog link:Drug Testing Cures for ALS on Drosophila Models BASIS Advisor: Cheri Carswell Internship location: University of Arizona Onsite Mentor: Dr. Daniela Zarnescu, Associate Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Neurology
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the neurons of the muscles of the human body. It usually begins in humans after the age of 60, and causes death two to four years after onset. When motor neurons begin to die, the brain loses control of the muscles, eventually causing the inability to speak, breathe, eat, or move. Around 75% of human disease genes have a match in Drosophila (fruit fly) models. As such, these models can be useful in the lab to screen new drugs. The Zarnescu Lab at the University of Arizona collects and crosses flies in order to make fly larvae which can be used to test the drugs. These larvae are allowed to develop for some days and consume food containing the drugs being tested. For this project, I will put the larvae on gel plates and take three minute time-lapse videos. The videos are studied using a computer program which helps us analyze the movements of the larvae, from which we can conclude how helpful the drugs are. We expect that these drugs will allow the larvae with ALS to move easier and quicker than the control group. These studies are important to the scientific community because ALS is a serious and widespread disease; all contributions that can help us learn more about this disease are necessary.