Social environment mediates cancer progression in Drosophila
The social environment of fruit flies with tumours significantly affects how fast cancer progresses — a finding that could explain how social interactions shape disease progression in humans as well.
A team that included a Deakin University scientist kept flies with intestinal tumours in vials either alone, together with other cancerous flies, or in a group with non-cancerous flies. Consistent with other studies in mammals, cancer progressed faster in the isolated flies maintained than in the flies kept with other cancerous conspecifics.
However, the researchers also found that tumour-bearing flies had fewer social interactions when housed with non-cancerous individuals — a form of social isolation that resulted in tumours developing at a similar rate as in isolated flies.
The results highlight the importance of group composition on cancer progression, with potential implications for social interventions among human patients.
- Nature Communications 9, 3574 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05737-w