May 10, 2017

Finding in flies could help treat human eye disorders

Fruit flies have a pigment in their tiny brains that allows them to tell the difference between night and day, according to new research. Scientists previously understood how six biological pigments called rhodopsins in the eyes of fruit flies allow them to filter light, discern objects and detect temperatures. But the study published in the journal Nature today described how a seventh rhodopsin expressed in the flies' central brains was important in discerning night from day.

Why you should care: The discovery could teach researchers how to deal with degenerative disorders that affect human vision.

Explain the science: Photopigment rhodopsin in human eyes intercept light as the first step in a biological process to actually perceive light. Now that scientists know fruit flies also have a seventh rhodopsin expressed in their brains that works in this light-filtering process, they hope to be able to better understand (and eventually treat) retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative eye diseases in humans.

How they did it: Researchers disabled the seventh rhodopsin in some fruit flies and discovered that they couldn't adjust to circadian rhythms the way normal fruit flies could, confirming the pigment's role in adjusting to night and day cycles.

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George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."