Flies with Parkinson's disease

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Parkinson's disease is an incurable neurodegenerative disease. Most cases of the disease are of sporadic origin, but about 10% of the cases are familial. The genes thus far identified in Parkinson's disease are well conserved. Drosophila is ideally suited to study the molecular neuronal cell biology of these genes and the pathogenic mutations in Parkinson's disease. Flies reproduce quickly, and their elaborate genetic tools in combination with their small size allow researchers to analyze identified cells and neurons in large numbers of animals. Furthermore, fruit flies recapitulate many of the cellular and molecular defects also seen in patients, and these defects often result in clear locomotor and behavioral phenotypes, facilitating genetic modifier screens. Hence, Drosophila has played a prominent role in Parkinson's disease research and has provided invaluable insight into the molecular mechanisms of this disease.

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