Monday, June 15, 2009

Scientists think they're so funny

My friend shared this story about gene discovery in Drosophila (fruit flies):

Researchers discovered a gene in Drosophila that, when mutated, makes the flies less influenced by alcohol. They than called it the "happy hour" gene.

The research was just published in Cell, but for those of you without a subscription, you can read the abstract here. It is surprising to me that, the same people who deny evolution, rely on it to help identify medical breakthroughs though research done in those silly fruit flies (can you believe it?!).

Not only can we use fruit flies to study alcohol use disorders, but also autism, birth defects, and a whole host of human medical ailments, not to mention all of the fundamental research that is neither ethical, nor practical to conduct in humans, or even in non-human primates, such as preliminary screenings medications to treat diabetes and cancer.

By the way - it is somewhat tempting to switch from bioinformatics to bench research, just for the possibility of getting to name a cool new gene something witty that people will be forced to use for the foreseeable future (ever heard of the SHH gene: the Sonic the Hedgehog gene, no joke).

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