In a move aimed at producing a model of prion disease in a well-defined genetic host that is quicker and easier to use, and also with the aim of reducing the number of mammalian animals used in research, Dr. Raymond Bujdoso’s group in the Department of Veterinary Medicine have developed a new model for studying prion disease using the fruit fly. have long been used for neurodegenerative studies because in common with mammals they show conservation in fundamental elements of the nervous system and biochemical pathways, allowing fly models of neurodegenerative disease to identify ways of modifying or slowing the disease in the host species. The normal physiology and development of is also well characterised, so as to allow the use of behavioural assays that could be used to detect prion-induced neurotoxicity in the live fly. An essential feature of this work is the ability to rapidly generate flies capable of expressing proteins usually found in other species (see Figure 2). do not naturally express the protein PrPC, the healthy protein necessary for prion infection. By introducing the PrP gene from sheep into the genome Dr. Bujdoso’s group have generated flies capable of expressing the ovine PrP protein and, as a consequence, a new and exciting model for the study of prion-induced neurodegeneration.
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