In a recent study conducted by The City College of New York has successfully drawn parallels between infection and the way in which blood cancer advances in the body. This study specifically was carried out in fruit flies.
The immune system response in Drosophila to a wasp infection is highly restrained, resulting in a thin layer of blood cells encapsulating the egg.
However, blood cancer occurs when there is an out-of-control response to a chronic inflammation, with a much thicker layer of red blood cells.
"The response to wasp infection is similar to acute inflammation while the cancer is akin to chronic inflammation in mammals, where regulation of the response to an infection also goes out of control," said Dr. Shubha Govind.
The correct balance between positive and negative factors is achieved through sumoylation, Professor Govind and colleagues reported.
"There is strong evidence that the fundamental mechanism of regulation uncovered in flies also works in humans. Because of the molecular similarities between flies and mammals, it may be possible to use flies to test drugs for potential anti-inflammatory effects in human disease," Govind said.
Although cancer would still be incurable with such drugs, maybe its progression could be delayed.
Other potential applications are in pest control for agriculture - parasitoids with the ability to suppress the hosts' immune systems could be used to kill insect pests.
The findings were published last month in PLoS: Pathogens.