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
- Image from work by Kyra Campbell and Andreu Casali, and colleagues
- Bateson Centre, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, UK and Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Lleida Fundació Dr. Pifarré (IRBLleida), Lleida, Spain
- Image originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)
- Published in Nature Communications, May 2019