Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Moving Models

New detail revealed about cancer metastasis using a fruit fly model

18 June 2019

Moving Models

A riot in one city is bad enough, but when chaos starts to catch on elsewhere, a whole country can crumble. The same is true of cancer. Most deaths come after the initial tumour has spread to other areas of the body (metastasised). This deadly spread has proved difficult to study in animal experiments, and researchers believed that fruit flies – the diminutive stars of genetic research – didn’t live long enough to help. But a new study has initiated metastatic tumours in one area of the fly (glowing green in the gut, left), and seen them spread to the abdomen, thorax and head (left to right). A gene called Snail gets the tumours moving, and lets the researchers examine the process in new detail. The rapid life cycle and malleable genetics of fruit flies will open endless new experimental approaches, so we can one day keep cancer in its place.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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