Drosophila effectively models human genes responsible for genetic kidney diseases March 17, 2017

Zhe Han, Ph.D., Center for Cancer and Immunology Research, and his team of researchers studied nephrotic syndrome (NS) associated genes in the Drosophila model, which included seven genes that had never been analyzed in a pre-clinical model. "Eighty-five percent of these genes are required for nephrocyte function, suggesting that a majority of human genes known to be associated with NS play conserved roles in renal function from flies to humans," says Han. To confirm that the phenotypes they were studying truly caused human disease, they reversed the damage by expressing a wild-type human gene in which the associated nephrotic syndromes did not rescue the phenotypes. The research team concluded that the Drosophila nephrocyte can be used to illuminate the clinically relevant molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of most monogenic forms of NS. Next steps include using the in vivo models for drug screens in order to identify treatments for kidney diseases that currently lack therapeutic options. 

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