Interdisciplinary Summer School 2017

Stream 3: Drosophila as a model organism in drug discovery and development

Leader: Prof Monde Ntwasa
Department of Life and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences)

Anti-cancer and anti-microbial drug development involves enormous expenditure and risk. For rapid and economical identification of novel, bioavailable anti-tumour chemicals, the use of appropriate in vivo tumour models suitable for large-scale screening is key. The fruitfly, Drosophila is one of the most versatile model organism for use in many disciplines especially in genetics and in Biochemistry. One of the key benefits of flies as model organisms is their genetic similarity with humans. Thus, many biochemical pathways are conserved in the fruitfly making them very useful organism to study clinical matters.

The use of Drosophila as a drug discovery tool is increasing and yet very few people have the necessary skills to exploit the benefits of Drosophila students. In South Africa, more especially, Drosophila is used only for teaching genetics to undergraduate. However, the techniques required to achieve these experiments are extremely complex and require expert knowledge of this model organism.

Participants will benefit from the vast knowledge of visiting fly geneticists and learn about the latest experimental approaches wherein flies can be used for the discovery and validation of drugs. Furthermore, it is hoped that hands-on sessions will be possible where experimental manipulation of flies will be demonstrated.

Invited Researchers


Minimum qualification for participation is BSc (Honours) degree in Genetics and/or Biochemistry. Interest in Drug Discovery and Development and in Developmental Biology is an additional incentive.