Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using fruit flies to help understand cancer

Date:
October 22, 2010
Source:
Association for International Cancer Research
Summary:
Changes to proteins in a cell underlie many cancers. Now, a team of scientists in Portugal, Belgium and Norway plans to use the fruit fly to understand exactly how changes to proteins, identified in the test-tube, impact on how cells divide in a living organism.

Small and with a life cycle of just two weeks, fruit flies are seen by many as pests and a problem all year round.

Related Articles


However, for nearly a century, the humble insect, officially known as Drosophila melanogaster, which measures no more than 3mm, has performed a vital role in genetics and developmental biology.

Fruit flies are genetically diverse and easy to use in research, helping scientists in a variety of studies, from how the brain functions to how cancer develops.

Dr Mark Matfield of the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) explained: "Cancer is a disease of the most fundamental processes of living organisms, which is why it is found in all animals. The basic causes and mechanisms remain the same, from fruit flies to humans. Over the last twenty years, research into these tiny, simple, insects has resulted in major advances in cancer research. That is why, at AICR, we are keen to support high-quality research in this area."

Changes to proteins in a cell underlie many cancers and using funding from AICR, a team of scientists in Portugal, Belgium and Norway plan to use the fruit fly to understand exactly how changes to proteins, identified in the test-tube, impact on how cells divide in a living organism.

Dr Rui Martinho at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciκncia (IGC), in Portugal, in collaboration with researchers in Ghent (Belgium) and Bergen (Norway) hopes the study will increase understanding of how cancer begins.

One way that cells control the activity of their genes or proteins is to add on specific chemical groups or 'tags' to modify them (80-90% of normal human proteins are modified in this manner).

However, it is known that some of the enzymes responsible for these modifications are present at increased levels in certain aggressive cancers, or they are responsible for incorrect tagging which can drive the cell to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a tumour.

In the fruit fly, Dr Martinho and his collaborators propose to unravel the behaviour of one of these enzymes in order to understand its role in the growth and division of cells.

The modifications carried out by this enzyme affect a wide range of cellular functions during cell division and apoptosis (programmed cell death) essential for the normal balance of the organism, but they may also be involved in the development of cancer.

He explained: "We will focus on the enzyme San, to try to identify what it acts upon in the cell, how it is regulated, the consequences of its actions and, ultimately, its effect on how cells divide.

"Our approach will allow a better understanding of the impact of these modifications in healthy cells and cancer development in a living context closer to our own, rather than in human cells grown in test tubes or in unicellular organisms, such as yeast, as previous studies have done."

Dr Martinho's proposal, worth 147.000 Euro, was one of 23 successful projects, totalling more than £4million, approved by AICR in March this year and which recently got under way.

The charity has previously funded another project at IGC led by Dr Miguel Godinho-Ferreira, principal investigator of the Telomers and Genome Stability group. Dr Godinho-Ferreira's findings were recently published in the scientific journal Nature and AICR has high hopes for this current grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for International Cancer Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for International Cancer Research. "Using fruit flies to help understand cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022082454.htm>.
Association for International Cancer Research. (2010, October 22). Using fruit flies to help understand cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022082454.htm
Association for International Cancer Research. "Using fruit flies to help understand cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022082454.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) — Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins