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Figuring out the brain one nutrient at a time

  1. 21.11.2013

    A novel method provides researchers with a way to identify how alterations at the level of specific nutrients in an organism’s diet can lead to changes in brain and behaviour.

    In a study conducted across seven years and four countries, a new way of controlling the exact composition of the nutrients ingested by flies was established.

    fly cloud

    The food we consume affects all aspects of our lives including aging, ability to reproduce, life span, mental state and behaviour. With this new method, we can now target specific nutrients and discover how they affect these critical elements. Says Carlos Ribeiro, principal investigator at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme from the Champalimaud Foundation, one of the researchers involved in this study.

    Natural food is very complicated in terms of its molecular composition, making it very difficult to identify how specific nutrients affect our wellbeing. Explains Ricardo Leitão-Gonçalves, a postdoctoral fellow in Ribeiro’s lab. In order to answer these pressing questions this team has developed this new method, which we apply to the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, thus enabling us to literally figure out the brain one nutrient at a time.

    This study, published today (Nov 17th) in the scientific journal Nature Methods is titled A Holidic Medium for Drosophila melanogaster and it is the product of collaboration between researchers at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme – Champalimaud Foundation, University College London, King’s College London, University of Michigan and Max Planck Institute.

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