Modeling of leukemia in flies

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is one of the most frequently observed forms of leukemia in the Western world. The current strategy to treat AML has hardly changed during the past four decades, and consists of aggressive chemotherapy. A large number of patients relapses, and 5-year survival rate is stagnant at approximately 60%. One major problem in development of new forms of AML treatment is our lack of understanding of how the mechanisms that establish the cancerous state of AML cells. Identifying the genes that support proliferation and survival of the tumor cells is a major task.

The goal of this project is to model human leukemia in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The advantage of fly models of leukemia is that we can perform unbiased, large-scale genetic screens to identify the genetic network that underlies the cancer state. We also plan to use this fly model of AML to perform high-throughput drug screens to identify compounds that slow down or even revert cancer progression. The results of these experiments will be validated in human AML cells.

The project will start in the summer of 2015 and will be headed by Helene Knævelsrud.