Model Organisms Help Researchers Learn About Human Cancers
It’s hard to imagine that a zebrafish, a small tropical freshwater fish that is often found in home aquariums, could help scientists solve complicated problems about melanoma, a type of human skin cancer. But zebrafish and other small organisms—such as fruit flies, roundworms, yeast and mice —are helping research scientists uncover how human cancers—skin, colon, breast and others—begin, invade, spread and can be treated. Many of the top scientists in the model organism and human cancer fields will be meeting to discuss their research at the Genetics Society of America’s (GSA’s) Model Organisms to Human Biology (MOHB): Cancer Genetics Meeting on June 17-20, 2012 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“Nature reuses the same building blocks to construct organisms as different as yeasts, worms, flies, fish, mice, and humans. Key aspects of most human disorders, including cancer, can be modeled in these organisms,” said Phil Hieter, PhD, (University of British Columbia), president of the GSA. “This MOHB meeting is occurring at a very exciting time when the genetic mutations that cause cancer are being discovered at an unprecedented pace. This meeting will showcase the power of the multi-organismal approach to understanding gene function relevant to disease and will stimulate cross-talk and collaboration between cancer researchers and basic scientists,” Dr. Hieter added. Model organisms are used to study complex diseases like cancer because of their short life cycles and well-understood biology, which enable researchers to dissect the disease, conduct experiments, and even try out treatments in ways that wouldn’t be possible in people.
Full article at Newswise here.