The fruit fly—serving research
In the basement of one of the buildings at the University of Skövde, there is a very small and very important laboratory. Here research is carried out on cancer diseases, fertility, gluten intolerance, and genetic skeleton and muscle diseases. The one in focus in all this research, besides the researchers themselves, is the ordinary fruit fly.
Katarina Ejeskär, professor in biomedicine, is one of the researchers working in the fruit-fly lab and who set this up at the University of Skövde in the spring of 2015. There are two research groups connected to the lab. One is led by Homa Tajsharghi, professor in biomedicine, and this group studies genetics and genome function in muscular diseases. The other one, led by Katarina Ejeskär, studies among other things cancer and celiac diseases (gluten intolerance).
“What you want to achieve with this kind of research is to get a better understanding of diseases and the genes causing the disease in order to develop new kinds of treatment and medicines for, for example, cancer diseases,” says Katarina Ejeskär.
Katarina does research on several kinds of diseases in the new laboratory, but it is primarily two forms of cancer that she is doing close studies on: neuroblastoma, which is a childhood cancer tumor, and colon cancer. For the latter, the genes of fruit flies come to use.
”There are many advantages of studying just fruit flies. They have a short generation time so in just over one week, you have a new generation. This way you can get research results faster. What is very good about fruit flies is that they basically have the same cells as humans, or as all living organisms. This means that you can use fruit flies to test mutations and see what happens in the genes,” says Katarina Ejeskär.
Professor of Biomedicine