Washington, D.C. (April 5, 2013) A person's skin and a fruit fly's exoskeleton, called a "cuticle" may not look alike, but both coverings protect against injury, infection, and dehydration. The top layers of mammalian skin and insect cuticle are mesh-works of macromolecules, the mammal version consisting mostly of keratin proteins and the fly version predominantly of the carbohydrate chitin. Yet the requirement of an outer boundary for protection is so ancient that the outermost cells of both organisms respond to some of the same signals. And because of these signaling similarities, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster serves as a model for wound healing.
A presentation today at the Genetics Society of America's 54th Annual Drosophila Research Conference in Washington D.C. April 3-7 describes a new way to study wound healing in flies that suggests new targets for wound-healing drugs. About 177 million people a year suffer from a wound, an opening that breaks the skin and usually damages the tissue underneath, which may be surgical, traumatic as a burn or laceration, or may be a chronic condition, as with people who have diabetes or those with immune system diseases.
Michelle T. Juarez, PhD, an assistant medical professor at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New York, presents the doctoral research on wound healing of Rachel A. Patterson, from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). William McGinnis, PhD, distinguished professor of the section of cell and developmental biology at UCSD, completes the research team. He has been investigating the "biological armor" of the fly for many years.
A desire to understand more about wound healing in people inspired the trio, particularly Ms. Patterson. "My fianc is a firefighter and a member of the U.S. military. Maybe one day our work will influence his medical treatment if he sustains burns or injury wounds," she said.
|Contact: Phyllis Edelman|
Genetics Society of America