New cancer research: How do fruit flies help to investigate cancer tumors?

Thanks to fruit flies, new knowledge about tumors has been gained
By studying fruit flies, cancer researchers have gained new insights into the development of tumors that can also be transferred to humans. At a symposium in Heidelberg, in which hundreds of experts from all over the world take part, stem cells, cancer and cancer stem cells are currently being reported and discussed.

New insights into the development of tumors
In some years, fruit flies become a real summer plague. The St. Vincent Hospital in Düsseldorf even had to close two operating theaters in 2014 because they were infested with fruit flies. In other areas of health, however, the small insects are very helpful. For example, cancer researchers have gained new insights into the development of tumors by examining fruit flies.

International symposium in Heidelberg
The Viennese molecular biologist Jürgen Knoblich said in a message from the dpa news agency: "We have succeeded in replicating the formation of a tumor stem cell from a normal stem cell in the fruit fly."

Knoblich is currently taking part in the International Heinrich Behr Symposium, which “regularly brings together the international elite of cancer, stem cell and tumor stem cell researchers in Heidelberg,” as stated in a message from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).

Research can be transferred to people
Research by the expert from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) in Vienna has shown that defects in cell division in the fruit fly lead to the development of tumors. If a specific gene mutates and the corresponding protein is removed from the fly, a brain tumor develops, Knoblich explained. "And these brain tumors in the fly have properties that are also very characteristic of human tumors."

For example, the cells in it divided much more than in healthy tissue. "While the normal stem cell eventually stops dividing, these tumor stem cells don't die," Knoblich explained. According to the agency announcement, the research can be transferred to humans, since this certain protein is also present in them.

Fruit flies can smell cancer cells
Years ago, scientists from the University of Konstanz and the University of La Sapienza in Rome reported that certain fruit flies can smell cancer cells. Thanks to their fragrance receptors, they can not only differentiate between healthy and diseased cells, but also classify which group of cancer the ulcer belongs to. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Fruit Fly Biologists Examine Cancer Genes (January 2022).