The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a powerful model genetic organism that has been used since the turn of the previous century in the study of complex biological problems. In the last decade, numerous researchers have focused their attention on understanding neurodegenerative diseases by utilizing this model system. Numerous Drosophila mutants have been isolated that profoundly affect neural viability and integrity of the nervous system with age. Additionally, many transgenic strains have been developed as models of human disease conditions. We review the existing Drosophila neurodegenerative mutants and transgenic disease models, and discuss the role of the fruit fly in therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases.
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