Fruit Fly Research Could Lead to Ways to Extend Life of Human Organs

Kosha Parikh (left) and David Luor examine fruit flies for their research on cold tolerance.

Kosha Parikh (left) and David Luor examine fruit flies for their research on cold tolerance.

CAMDEN — A team of Rutgers–Camden students are performing research that could extend the short shelf life of donated organs used for transplants.

Most organs must be transplanted within only a few hours and are kept on ice to ensure they survive. But by studying cold tolerance in the cells of Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, Rutgers–Camden biology students are looking for ways to buy even more time.

“The Drosophila melanogaster genome is entirely mapped out and they’re similar to human cellular mechanisms, meaning that there are many similarities in the cell development of humans and Drosophila,” says David Luor, a senior biology major from Cedar Knolls.

“We’re looking at how we can prolong their ability to survive at lower temperatures, which can lead to avenues for extending the life of human organs,” he says.

Luor, a graduate of Whippany Park High School, is working with senior biology major Daniel Ricketti and junior biology major Kosha Parikh on the project.

“No one really knows the answer to how many more hours it could give to organ transplants, but it has the potential to add at least a few hours or maybe even increase the time by 50 percent,” says Ricketti, a Cherry Hill resident and graduate of Cherry Hill High School West.

The team is observing the behavior of three species of fruit fly to determine if they can live longer and ultimately thrive at lower temperatures.

“This research has been a great experience, not only from an academic standpoint, but in helping us develop research skills, too,” says Parikh, a Delran resident and Delran High School graduate. “Rutgers–Camden gives students great opportunities to do hand-on research that you really wouldn’t find anywhere else.”

The group is presenting their research to the campus community at the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity on April 18 in the Campus Center Multi-Purpose Room from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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