Using Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases for drug discovery

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2011 Feb;6(2):129-40. doi: 10.1517/17460441.2011.549124.

Abstract

Introduction: Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease are increasing in prevalence as our aging population increases in size. Despite this, currently there are no disease-modifying drugs available for the treatment of these conditions. Drosophila melanogaster is a highly tractable model organism that has been successfully used to emulate various aspects of these diseases in vivo. These Drosophila models have not been fully exploited in drug discovery and design strategies.

Areas covered: This review explores how Drosophila models can be used to facilitate drug discovery. Specifically, we review their uses as a physiologically-relevant medium to high-throughput screening tool for the identification of therapeutic compounds and discuss how they can aid drug discovery by highlighting disease mechanisms that may serve as druggable targets in the future. The reader will appreciate how the various attributes of Drosophila make it an unsurpassed model organism and how Drosophila models of neurodegeneration can contribute to drug discovery in a variety of ways.

Expert opinion: Drosophila models of human neurodegenerative diseases can make a significant contribution to the unmet need of disease-modifying therapeutic intervention for the treatment of these increasingly common neurodegenerative conditions.