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Fruit flies can shed light on sleep disorders in Alzheimer’s patients.

January 27, 2014

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, and so far irreversible, type of dementia that slowly degrades memory and cognitive functions. A lesser known and somewhat understudied effect of Alzheimer's is its impact on sleep patterns.

Now, biologists are using fruit flies to help study sleep disorders caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

“Believe it or not, fruit flies are a really great type of organism to study sleep, and that’s because like humans, they are awake during the day, if they’re normal, and they sleep during the night,” said Dr. Felice Elefant, associate professor of Biology, CoAS, at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

To test the physiological effects of Alzheimer's on human sleep patterns, Elefant and her research team altered the sleep patterns of fruit flies to follow the sleep patterns of many Alzheimer’s patients who sleep more during the day but remain wide awake at night.

Watch video news segment on Inside Science TV Website: Sleepy Flies Help Understand Alzheimers Brains