Fruit Fly Phlebotomy Holds Neuroscience Promise

UIC Podcast
UIC Podcast
Fruit Fly Phlebotomy Holds Neuroscience Promise

News Release


[Writer] This is Research News from U-I-C, the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Today, Scott Shippy, associate professor of Chemistry, talks about a technique he and his laboratory developed for extracting biological fluids from individual laboratory fruit flies.  The technique may also prove useful in early diagnosis of certain eye diseases.

Here’s Professor Shippy:

[Shippy] The work that we were doing is to study the blood from an individual fly just as we would go to the doctor’s office and have blood and look at the chemical content of blood.  Our goal was to look at this on an individual fly level, which obviously is much, much smaller.  The fruit fly is a pretty important genetic model for both normal functions in our bodies as well as disease.  And in particular, we and our collaborators are interested in how this affects the nervous system.

So, we take an individual fly and we can pin it down in a dish, underneath a microscope and take another pin and pierce the side body of the fly, which allows the hemolymph, or the blood, to leak from the side of the fly.  We then come in with a small tube, that’s about a quarter of a millimeter in diameter, and applying just a slight, reduced pressure, aspirate the hemolymph up into the tube.

We collect anywhere from 50 to 300 nanoliters of fluid which then we take from that small tube and dilute it down about 250 times, which is still only on average 40 millionths of a liter.  This is more than enough volume now, however, to take smaller portions of that and to analyze the chemical content, and specifically, we look at the amino acids.  This method allows us to look at individuals, rather than taking up multiple flies at one time and just getting a bulk average.  We can still take a number of measurements of individuals and find that same average, but now we can also see the variations about that average, how much higher and lower it can go.

Our group is generally interested in handling small volumes, and a similar approach might be useful for exploring particular regions of the retina where disease is occurring, and we can sample the chemical content in this particular region, which will allow us to better understand the changes that are occurring to the tissue that are a result of or are contributing to the disease.

[Writer] Scott Shippy is an associate professor in the department of Chemistry.

For more information about this research, go to www-dot-news-dot- uic-dot-edu … click on “news releases” … and look for the release dated March 25, 2008.

This has been research news from U-I-C – the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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