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Bright idea for medical breakthroughs [news]

New Zealand's glow-worms could be used to help monitor blood sugar, test drugs and take medical images because of the tiny part of their tail that gives out light. Otago University scientist Miriam Sharpe has begun a three-year study into what makes makes the insects glow, with the ultimate hope of seeing the native glow-worms help with medical breakthroughs.

A potential use would be to develop a protein that responded to low blood sugar by glowing brightly, which could help diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels.

Light-emitting proteins had the potential to be used in several research areas, Dr Sharpe said. In New Zealand, light-generating proteins have been used in research into cancer drug development, gene therapy, apple colour and animal muscle growth.

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