In February, CBS This Morning had a segment on Mount Sinai’s novel use of fruit flies to screen for personalized cancer drugs. Ross Cagan, PhD, Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, discussed how his laboratory replicates a patient’s tumor and implants it in a fruit fly. Then his team tests an arsenal of 840 drugs—all approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for other uses—to see if they shrink the tumor.
CBS This Morning interviewed Mark Beeninga, a Mount Sinai patient with medullary thyroid cancer, who had just begun a three-drug treatment regimen that was discovered by Tirtha Das, PhD, an American Cancer Society Fellow and member of Dr. Cagan’s lab, using the fruit fly screening method. Mr. Beeninga was tolerating the regimen, but it was too early to know if the treatment was working.
Dr. Cagan, also a Professor of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Oncological Sciences, and Ophthalmology, has long been a proponent of using fruit flies to research human diseases. Given their relative genomic similarity to humans, and their nine-day life cycle, the flies make quick and relatively inexpensive models.
With Mr. Beeninga as the first patient, Dr. Cagan established Mount Sinai’s new Center for Personalized Cancer Therapeutics, which will begin screening other patients with medullary thyroid cancer, as well as those with colorectal cancer, and triple negative breast cancer.