In recent years, Drosophila has been extensively used as a model for multiple human diseases. The goals are to uncover fundamental biological principles underlying causes of human pathology. There is also the compelling prospect of novel therapeutics identified by the study of disease-causing genes followed by targeted drug development, or by establishing platforms for high-throughput drug screening. In this proposal, we investigate a Drosophila model of epilepsy based on a set of neurological mutants with seizure-disorders that resemble some human epilepsies. We utilize aspects of this model to address several issues important in the causes and cures of seizure disorder. We are particularly interested in epilepsy caused by mutation of the Na+ channel gene. In humans, such mutations are associated with three forms of epilepsy: GEFS+ (generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus), characterized by febrile seizures that persist beyond the age of 6y;SMEI (severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy), an intractable epilepsy frequently resulting in convulsive status epilepticus;and ICEGTC (intractable childhood epilepsy with generalized tonic-clonic), an atypical SMEI that does not cause myoclonic seizures. In flies, severe seizure-like behaviors and electrical abnormalities are caused by the bss mutations. These have been recently mapped to the Drosophila Na+ channel gene para. Here, we propose to investigate comprehensively the role of Na+ channel mutations in Drosophila seizure-susceptibility and use bss mutations as substrates for identifying potential AED candidates by drug screening and by seizure-suppressor mutations.
Neurological mutants in the fruit fly Drosophila are used to explore causes and cures for human epilepsy. In this proposal, we search for new anti-epileptic drugs with the potential for greater efficacy and fewer side effects than those presently available for epilepsy treatment.
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