ST. LOUIS, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have created a line of fruit flies that they hope might someday help shed light on the mechanisms that cause insomnia in humans.
The flies created by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis only get a small fraction of the sleep of normal flies and resemble insomniac humans in several ways. For example, if researchers turned on a light at night, insomniac flies awakened and stayed up the rest of the night, while healthy flies went back to sleep.
"Insomnia is a common and debilitating disorder that results in substantial impairments in a person's quality of life, reduces productivity and increases the risk for psychiatric illness," Paul Shaw, the study's senior author, said. "We think this model has clear potential to help us learn more about the causes of insomnia and someday develop ways to test for or treat them in the clinic."
One of Shaw's co-authors, Dr. Stephen Duntley, directs the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center.
"The wonderful thing about this new model is that it lets us begin to sort out some of the many potential mechanisms, genetic and otherwise, that may underlie insomnia, hopefully leading to new interventions," Duntley said.
The research is reported in The Journal of Neuroscience.