Researchers at the Austrian Academy of Sciences have used fruit flies to understand how cancer cells generate energy to allow them to keep dividing to form a tumour.
It is known that cancer cells metabolise energy in different ways to normal cells, which allows them instead to keep on dividing in the same way a stem cell does.
Through imaging researchers noticed that the metabolic changes in the fly cancer cells were due to changes in the mitochondria, which provide energy to the cell.
These observations, only possible in a fruit fly model of cancer due to their lack of complexity, may provide targets for cancer treatment in the future.
"Our findings overturn previous concepts about the biology of these tumours and open up an array of exciting follow up questions, including whether the mechanisms we just discovered in the fruit fly are also applicable to mammalian tumours,” said Jürgen Knoblich, IMBA group leader and scientific director