Engineered flies spill secret of seizures

October 11, 2012

Scientists have observed the neurological mechanism behind temperature-dependent — febrile — seizures by genetically engineering fruit flies to harbor a mutation analogous to one that causes epileptic seizures in people. In addition to contributing the insight on epilepsy, the new study by BIBS member Robert Reenan and colleagues highlights the first use of genetic engineering to swap a human genetic disease mutation into a directly analogous gene in a fly. In a newly reported set of experiments that show the value of a particularly precise but difficult genetic engineering technique, researchers at Brown University and the University of California–Irvine have created a Drosophila fruit fly model of epilepsy to discern the mechanism by which temperature-dependent seizures happen.