Genes from humans and jellyfish are being injected into flies to help find new treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
It is hoped the newly-developed technique will speed up the search for effective drugs to tackle conditions of the nervous system. Human genes related to the diseases are transferred into fruit flies, which are given various substances to find out if they have any effect. The jellyfish DNA is used to make part of the brain flash different colours: a blue light changes to green if the drug has an effect.
This helps scientists narrow down drug treatments through generations of flies, which inherit the genes. Researchers at Brainwave Discovery Ltd said it was an alternative to experiments on mice. Dr Douglas Armstrong, the company's chief scientific officer, said: "Using fruit flies saves time and money. They hatch in days and live up to 100 days so results take just weeks."