Using fruit flies to unravel how cancer starts
Aim of the research
Dr Bardin uses fruit flies to gain a better understanding of how and why cancer develops and hopes that this will help research into a wide range of cancers.
More about the research project
Cancer arises from mutations – small changes - in our genetic material, or DNA. All the DNA that one cell contains called our genome. If this genome is unstable, it is more likely that changes occur within our DNA. Just like it’s easier to drop something when you stand on a wobbly boat compared to solid ground. When these changes occur in genes whose normal function it is to stop cells from growing and dividing, cancer can develop. We are only beginning to understand how these processes work and how they can lead to the development of cancer.
Dr Bardin established a new way to study this process in fruit flies. She found that flies rapidly develop spontaneous tumours. Dr Bardin and her team are now trying to better understand the mechanisms that lead to the development of tumours. They think that this understanding could have numerous implications for cancer research in the future.
About the researcher
Allison Bardin, when not busy having fun with her family, enjoys her (little) alone time swimming and running. She also enjoys cooking (as well as eating) and sometimes finds scientific inspiration in these moments, when she least expects it.
We strongly believe that discovery research has a critical role in science and society: our studies in the fruit fly are rapid, cost-effective, and can be scaled up to large numbers of individuals, the extent to which, is not possible with mammalian models. The knowledge we gain in this system will therefore provide important directions for future studies in other model systems.