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Thomas Esmangart de Bournonville (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland), What can Drosophila tell us about cancer?

10 April | 13 h 30 min - 14 h 30 min

Thomas Esmangart de Bournonville (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, Bruno Lemaitre’s lab) is a postdoctoral researcher working on Drosophila, with expertise in how this model organism develops cancer.



Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the world, with 20 million new cases and 9.7 million deaths in 2022. From understanding the primary cause of tumorigenesis to the discovery of metastases, cachexia and the interaction with the microbiota, researchers have made enormous progress over the last few decades. These results have also been made possible by the use of model organisms and fundamental research. Among them, Drosophila melanogaster is a pioneer. More than a century ago, Mary Stark, a scientist in Thomas Hunt Morgan’s laboratory, began to describe how chromosomes were carrying the “cause” of cancer. 100 years later, most people, including scientists and physicians, still don’t know that flies can carry cancer and serve as a model. In this presentation, I will explain how Drosophila, as an invertebrate model, can be very useful for studying cancer. For example, Drosophila has 60-70% homology with the human genome, and more than 75% of the genes responsible for disease in humans are present in Drosophila. Of the 154 well-characterised cancer driver genes in humans, 150 were present in Drosophila. What’s more, the Drosophila’s powerful genetic toolbox, the extensive understanding of its immune system and the systemic effect of its microbiota on fly’s disease are all important factors in its success. Although not sufficient, Drosophila remains an excellent opportunity to address key issues such as the stem cell niche, the innate immune response to cancer and paraneoplastic effects, to name but a few.


10 April
13 h 30 min - 14 h 30 min
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