An off-the-shelf dietary supplement, which costs next to nothing to manufacture, has demonstrated the ability to reverse cellular damage linked to specific genetic mutations in transgenic fruit flies. This is from an experimental model of genetic mutation-induced renal cell injury. What's important about the research is that the model used shares similarities to humans. The fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster
) is one of the most well understood of all the model organisms
. For many years Drosophila
have proved ideal for the study of genetics and development.
The researchers have been studying nephrotic syndrome
, which refers to a cluster of symptoms that signal kidney damage, including excess protein in the urine, low protein levels in blood, swelling and elevated cholesterol. Around 1 in every 50,000 children are diagnosed with the condition each year.
The researchers used genetically modified Drosophila
designed to carry mutations in this critical pathway (to simulate what might be happening in a person). The researchers were able to block gene expression linked to a range of kidney diseases using readily available dietary supplement containing coenzyme Q10
. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance similar to a vitamin; it functions as an antioxidant, which protects the body from damage caused by harmful molecules.
The dietary supplement is described in a research paper, published in Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
. Summarizing the main points of the researcher, lead author Professor Zhe Han from the U.S. Children’s National Health System, has stated that the work represents a benchmark for precision medicine.
In communication with Digital Journal, Han stated: “Our gene-replacement approach silenced the fly homolog in the tissue of interest – here, the kidney cells – and provided a human gene to supply the silenced function. When we use a human gene carrying a mutation from a patient for this assay, we can discover precisely how a specific mutation – in many cases only a single amino acid change – might lead to severe disease."
Han adds further: "We can then use this personalized fly model, carrying a patient-derived mutation, to perform drug testing and screening to find and test potential treatments. This is how I envision using the fruit fly to facilitate precision medicine."
Further details are outlined in the research paper
which is under the title "A Personalized Model of COQ2 Nephropathy Rescued by the Wild-Type COQ2 Allele or Dietary Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation."