Monday, November 12, 2018

A Gene Found in Fruit Flies Can Regulate Their Sleep Using an Energy Drink Ingredient; Can This Help Sleep Deprived Humans?

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A basic need of all humans, and drosophila, is sleep. In an article from Florida Atlantic University, the relation of sleep patterns in flies and humans is discussed, along with a discovery that has the potential to solve sleep regulation problems. Sleeping disorders can affect a humans ability to be healthy, learn and memorize information, have a stable metabolism, self-repair, etc. Fruit flies have a similar sleep schedule to humans and similar sleeping characteristics. It is also known that seventy five percent of the genes that cause diseases in humans are shared by drosophila. In a new experiment, researchers at Florida Atlantic University and McGill University found a new mechanism involving glial cells, which help in sleep regulation. This mechanism can control the movement of taurine in flies, which is an ingredient in energy drinks.  The researchers found a gene that encodes for a membrane transport protein called Eaat2. This protein causes flies to be more awake by moving taurine into glial cells of the brain. In people with sleep-disorders, or sleep-deprived people, taurine levels in the brain are high. (Florida Atlantic University)

It was found that sleep during the day time was increased only when Eaat2 was present along with taurine, which could mean that the protein they found, Eaat2, could be very important regarding sleep regulation. This discovery could be important to the future research in sleep disorders in humans. Since thirty percent of people experience sleep disorders, and these disorders can have a serious affect on their brain, this recent discovery could be very helpful toward finding the reasoning behind these disorders, and maybe even help find a way to help decrease the symptoms involved in these disorders. I think this is an important discovery that can influence more research to find out if humans have this protein, or one similar to it, that can help regulate sleep patterns and possible find a cure for sleep disorders. (Florida Atlantic University)


Florida Atlantic University. “Can't Sleep? Fruit Flies and Energy Drinks Offer New Clues.” Science News, ScienceDaily, 8 Nov. 2018,

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