By Grant Gattuso, VI Form
The Effects of the Ketogenic Diet’s Effect in a Drosophila Melanogaster Model of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. This disease is chronic and causes tremors, muscle rigidity, difficulty speaking, and many other symptoms that debilitate the individual and deteriorate their quality of life significantly. Currently, there is no cure for PD. Previous research shows that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role in the death of the dopaminergic neurons in PD. Since the ketogenic diet – a four to one ratio of lipids to carbohydrates – has been shown to improve mitochondrial function in diseases like Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, the ketogenic diet could delay or improve the onset of Parkinsonian symptoms. This study measured the effects of the ketogenic diet in a PINK1Drosophila melanogaster model of PD through a mobility test. Preliminary data found that the ketogenic diet can increase the mobility of PINK1 Drosophila melanogaster for at least four days and potentially even up to eight days, confirming the hypothesis. Four to eight days could correspond to many human years if the same beneficial effects were found in humans.
Grant Gattuso is a VI Form day student from Southborough, MA. He runs cross country and plays baseball, and he interned at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research in Seattle in the summer of 2018.