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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 13:33 GMT
Fruit flies aid Alzheimer's study
Fruit fly, BBC
Fruit flies are used to test ideas in biology
Scientists in Cambridge have been awarded more than 500,000 to study fruit flies in a bid to find a new treatment for Alzheimer's.

The flies will be used as a model to study the genes involved in the development of the disease in humans.

The team hopes that identifying diseased genes in the flies will help accelerate the design of new drugs.

A spokesman said the pursuit of new drugs has increased because Alzheimer's has become more common.

Although fruit flies have been used in genetics for 100 years, the University of Cambridge group claim to be one of the first in the world to have developed a fruit fly model reproducing aspects of Alzheimer's.

'More effective drugs'

Senior Research Associate, Dr Damian Crowther, said: "As the population is living increasingly longer, Alzheimer's disease is becoming very common.

"The pharmaceutical industry and scientists are keen to seek new directions in drug discovery for Alzheimer's disease.

"We hope that through our grant, our findings will create new understanding and aid the development of more effective drugs for Alzheimer's disease."

The 540,000 grant was awarded by Essex-based pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd.

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