What a yawn that old horror flick The Fly might have been, had the screenwriter known then about a new piece of Drosophila research. In the movie, a fly gets trapped with a half-mad inventor inside his "matter transporter," an accident that somehow results in a fly-man whose over-amped style includes no apparent need for sleep. But flies do enjoy a "sleep-like state," says Douglas Nitz of the Neuroscience Institute in San Diego. Indeed, his group's work suggests that the fruit fly may be a good model for studying the genetics of sleep (D. Nitz et al., "Electrophysiological correlates of rest and activity in Drosophila melanogaster," Curr Biol, 12:1-7, Nov. 19, 2002).

For 10 years, researchers have been studying which genes are expressed during sleep. Nitz thinks that the fruit fly is a great tool for this work, because it's easily manipulated genetically. But James Horne, director of the Sleep...

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