Fruit flies- providing important clues to human wound repair

Male fruit fly on a blade of grass macroFruit flies and humans aren’t anything alike… or are they? A fruit fly’s exoskeleton and a human’s skin are both made up of a mesh of molecules that protect against injury and infection. Even though some of the molecules are different, many of the important molecules and proteins are the same. Turns out the the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is actually a really good model for wound healing.

Because fruit fly genetics are simpler than mammalian genetics, when researchers look at genes that are activated during fruit fly wound healing, it’s easier to pinpoint the functions of those individual genes. And during wound repair, they can also look at the genes that aren’t activated when the body focuses on wound repair and neglects other developmental processes. Studying the balance of gene activation and deactivation- and identifying certain genes that are involved in fruit fly wound repair- can potentially lead to new developments in skin graft and wound healing in humans. It can also give researchers insights into possible treatments for chronic skin diseases, like psoriosis and eczema. Turns out those little flies can give us a lot of information!