Modeling human diseases in Drosophila

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster represents an excellent model organism for studies in various fields of biology. The short life cycle, easy cultivation methods, and an elaborated experimental toolkit has made this organism an unparalleled system for experiments in genetics, developmental biology, cell biology, neuroscience, population and evolution biology, and more. Indeed, despite its compactness, the genome of Drosophila encodes more than 75% orthologs of human pathology-related proteins. This feature has turned Drosophila into an attractive host to model various human diseases, from cancer to neurological syndromes.

The HumanaFly facility, hosted by the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, thus has as its major goal the modeling of diverse human diseases using D. melanogaster, to be followed by the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the disease etiology and ultimately early drug discovery towards the disease. While all standard services for Drosophila facilities, such as germ-line transformation, genetic screens, CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis, and others, are offered by our team, the distinguishing feature of our platform is the focus on creating disease models and the design of complex experimentation around them. Furthermore,  the HumanaFly facility amitions to become a research platform and educational centre for Geneva and Swiss scientists looking for a powerful non-vertebrate model to speed up their biomedical, medical, and drug discovery research, in compliance with the 3R principles.