Narrator: This is Science Today. Biologists at the University of California , San Diego have demonstrated that fruit flies can be used to study the link between the biochemical activities and physiological effects of anthrax toxins. Ethan Bier, a senior author of the study, explains the value of such model organisms in biology.
Bier: I think there is an important place for model organisms that include fruit flies and nematode worms and yeast, even, to look at the function of genes that have been highly conserved during the course of evolution in terms of understanding their mechanism of action. And once those mechanisms are understood, one can then hopefully translate some of that knowledge into a vertebrate system or mammalian system to see what relevance it has to the actual course of a human disease.
Narrator: Bier and colleagues found anthrax toxins that cause disease and death in mammals have similar toxic effects in fruit flies – an important step, which may lead to new therapeutic strategies in humans. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.