Biology Professor Robert Reenan, has earned a three-year grant of $240,000 from the ALS Association for a genetic study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in fruit flies. Reenan is an expert at imbuing fruit flies with mutations that mimic genetic diseases in humans. Employing a technique called “forward genetics,” Reenan will breed large populations of the flies and look for secondary mutations, if any, that counteract the disease, leading to improved survival. “We have given flies, literally, the same mutations that cause ALS in humans and they cause motor phenotypes ending in death. We will generate genetic ‘cures’ of these flies by a discovery-based procedure that mutates the whole genome looking for needle-in-a-haystack mutations that allow the flies to live.” The ALS Assocation announced the grant August 13 as one of several its Translational Research Advancing Therapy (TREAT) ALS program.

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