Introduction: Although vertebrate model systems have obvious advantages in the study of human disease, invertebrate organisms have contributed enormously to this field as well. The conservation of genome structure and physiology among organisms poses unexpected peculiarities, and the redundancy in certain gene families or the presence of polymorphisms that can slightly alter gene expression can, in certain instances, bring invertebrate systems, such as Drosophila, closer to humans than mice and vice versa. This necessitates the analysis of disease pathways in multiple model organisms. Areas covered: The author highlights findings from Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases that have occurred in the past few years. She also highlights and discusses various molecular, genetic and genomic tools used in flies, as well as methods for generating disease models. Finally, the author describes Drosophila models of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's tri-nucleotide repeat diseases, and Fragile X syndrome and summarizes insights in disease mechanisms that have been discovered directly in fly models. Expert opinion: Full genome genetic screens in Drosophila can lead to the rapid identification of drug target candidates that can be subsequently validated in a vertebrate system. In addition, the Drosophila models of neurodegeneration may often show disease phenotypes that are absent in equivalent mouse models. The author believes that the extensive contribution of Drosophila to both new disease drug target discovery, in addition to target validation, makes them indispensible to drug discovery and development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Drug Discovery
- Disease model
- Fragile X
- Genetic screen
- Nervous system
- Polynucleotide repeat disease