Within the last seven years, Drosophila melanogaster or common fruit fly has gained an important niche in becoming an invertebrate model organism for exploring genetic and proteomic mechanisms underlying sleep. While a great deal of progress has been made in the field of Drosophila sleep research using available tools, they are limited for the observation, recording and analysis of sleep (immobility) periods in the fruit fly. Additionally, no existing system is capable of individually sleep-depriving flies on an as- needed basis. This proposal outlines a system explicitly designed to measure small amounts of motion in the Drosophila and, as such, more accurately estimate sleep than any available system. In conjunction with this detection device we also propose the design of a mechanized system capable of automatically sleep depriving individual flies through a fully-programmable computerized interface. The system will also provide a flexible behavioral platform for the controlled introduction of modalities based on light, temperature, scent, sound, etc. Phase I of this proposal successfully demonstrated a device to record and analyze motion patterns and sleep as well as enforce wakefulness in individually housed flies. Phase II will build this prototype device into an automated, scalable, modular system capable of monitoring and sleep depriving 160+ flies housed within a commercial incubator. Accomplishment of this project will involve a collaborative effort between Pinnacle Technology and the world-renowned Drosophila research team at The University of Pennsylvania. Prototyping and design will continue to be undertaken by Pinnacle Technology while testing and refinement of the system will be accomplished by the University of Pennsylvania team. The combination of these two features specifically designed to record and automatically analyzes sleep in the fly, will provide a new and powerful tool for Drosophila researchers to explore the basic genetics underlying sleep. Technological innovations of this system will include enhanced video recognition software, mechanisms to observe multiple flies with a single video camera and the technology to selectively deprive individual flies of sleep. Control of individual fly sleep deprivation and real-time visualization of data will be available though a web-based control system. After completion, the system will be validated by testing with known sleep mutations and validated by a trained human observer. Commercial applications of such a device are already being sought by major pharmaceutical companies as they explore new potential gene products for targeted therapy.
It is estimated that at least 40 million Americans suffer each year from chronic, long-term sleep disorders while an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. Economically, poor sleep accounts for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year and the indirect costs of lost productivity and other factors are known to be much higher. While the links between inadequate sleep and poor health and productivity are becoming clearer, there is a dire need to understand the basic causes and biological need for sleep.