Drugs and other molecules with therapeutic potential to treat colorectal cancer identified in the vinegar fly
Research carried out by the IRBLleida's Models of Disease in 'Drosophila' research group, led by Andreu Casali, researcher and lecturer at the University of Lleida
The research group Drosophila Models of Disease at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Lleida (IRBLleida), led by Andreu Casali, researcher and lecturer at the University of Lleida, uses its model developed in the vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to identify drugs and other molecules with therapeutic potential to treat colorectal cancer. The research is funded by Lleida Provincial Council and the Ministry of Education and Science, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield (UK). The president of Lleida Provincial Council, Joan Talarn, accompanied by the deputy for Public Health, Albert Bajona, presented the research at a press conference.
Dr Casali's team developed in 2019 a model of colorectal cancer in the vinegar fly to investigate in vivo the cellular processes involved in the onset of metastasis, since metastasis is the process by which cancer spreads to different organs of the body and is responsible for 90% of cancer-related deaths.
The use of the vinegar fly offers a number of advantages over the use of other animals in research, such as mice, including a rapid life cycle, very low maintenance costs and the possibility of assessing parameters such as drug absorption, distribution, metabolic stability and toxicity, reducing the chances of false positives. "For example, testing 30 compounds using the Drosophila melanogaster platform would save the use of 1,800-2,400 mice, since only those compounds that were effective in the vinegar fly would be tested in mouse models," Casali explained, adding that the vinegar fly has a fast cell cycle, is small and has only four chromosomes compared to humans, which have 46. The intention is to develop new models for rare diseases.
For his part, Joan Talarn recalled that "in Lleida we have a large group of professionals who are doing very good work in their research, and who often go unnoticed by the general public". For this reason, he stressed that it is important to make them known to everyone.
Andreu Casali has extensive experience in developmental biology and cancer research using the vinegar fly as a model system. He has a long research career that began at the University of Barcelona. Subsequently, he continued at Columbia University (New York). In 2006 he received a Ramón y Cajal contract from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III and started at the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona as an independent researcher. He has also obtained research grants from the European Commission and the Spanish Government to continue his research. In 2013, he received a grant from the incentive programme for the incorporation and intensification of research activity and joined the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona. In 2018, she joined the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Lleida (IRBLleida).
The Deputy for Public Health, Albert Bajona, the President of Lleida Provincial Council, Joan Talarn, and the researcher and professor at the UdL, Andreu Casali