Discovery of novel anti-cancer drugs using Drosophila tumour models
We have set up a drug screening platform of whole Drosophila larvae carrying Ras-activated polarity-impaired tumours (Willoughby et al., 2013, Richardson et al., 2015). These tumours are generated genetically in Drosophila larvae and marked by green fluorescent protein (GFP). The larvae are fed a different drug per well, which is dissolved in the food. The effect of the drug on tumour development can be observed by quantifying the amount of GFP per larvae per well.
We have already identified that a MEK inhibitor (that blocks the Ras signalling pathway) and inhibitors of glutamine utilization are highly potent in reducing tumourigenesis in this model (Willoughby et al., 2013). Using this system we are currently screening new drug libraries for compounds that can inhibit tumour growth and invasion.