The Fruit Fly–Autism Connection: Professor studies fruit fly brains for genetic insights

Fruit Fly–Autism Connection

Fruit Fly–Autism Connection

By Evan Pellegrino, Arizona Daily Star
When most people see a fly, they try to shoo the pesky insect away — but not Linda Restifo. She sees a test subject that she hopes will lead her to a successful treatment for autism and other neurological disorders. Fruit fly brains have similar proteins and mechanisms to human brains. Because of the similarity, fruit flies are an important model for studies in genetics, physiology and pathology. “Fruit flies have led people to some of the central discoveries in genetics,” said Restifo, a University of Arizona professor of neurobiology and neurology and a researcher with the Arizona Research Laboratories. “They look quite different, but at a core level, genetically, we’re really quite similar.”

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