Innovative technique using fly larva may aid drug discovery

A team of German researchers have developed a method to study the processes taking place in the cells of a living fruit fly larva. Studies using the larval form of flies have great research potential as their transparent bodies with highly developed organs provide a simple and effective system for observing real-time molecular processes and organ functions in a living animal. The technique presents a promising model for drug discovery, demonstrated by the team when they investigated wound healing in fly larva, and identified how a certain set of molecules are needed to efficiently heal wounds. Previously, most studies were done using adult flies, which are opaque, and embryos which have much smaller cells than the larva, making observation more difficult. "This technique will help many scientists studying neuronal signalling, fat metabolism, or tumour formation, and will provide new opportunities for drug discovery," says Parisa Kakanj, corresponding author of the study. Team members were from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne, EARA member the Max Planck institute for Biology of Ageing, and both CECAD and the CMMC in Cologne.

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