Eureka Alert

IMAGE: Protein can slow intestinal tumor growth. view more 

Credit: Ylva Engström

A new mechanism for regulating stem cells in the intestine of fruit flies has been discovered by researchers at Stockholm University. In addition, it was discovered that a certain protein can slow the growth of tumours in intestinal tissue. A better understanding of these mechanisms can teach us more about how diseases in human intestines occur, as well as contribute to the development of new medicine to cure them. The results are now being published in the scientific journal Stem Cell Reports.

In a healthy intestine, the intestinal mucosa continuously regenerates from immature cells, so-called stem cells. Cell proliferation must be regulated in order to occur at the same rate as the elimination of old, damaged cells. A too rapid proliferation of stem cells may cause tumours, and a too slow proliferation may lead to the intestinal walls not regenerating normally, which results in inflammation.

By studying intestinal regeneration in fruit flies, the researchers discovered a new mechanism used by gut cells to determine whether they should continue to divide or instead mature and develop into specialised cells with specific functions. The fruit fly’s intestine has many


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