Exploring cancer with computers

May 8, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Computers can be used to identify cancer treatment targets that wouldn't otherwise have been considered, according to research by an Australian team.

Professor Mark Ragan from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), who led the research team, says they found that could be used to untangle the intricacies of biology. 

“Cancer is not a disease caused by single genes. Rather, it is changes to the underlying networks that prompt tumours to grow and spread,” he said. 

“Understanding gene regulatory networks in healthy and diseased tissues is therefore critical to devising effective cancer treatments. 

“These networks involve vast numbers of interactions between different molecules, making conventional experimental approaches, which are focused on individual genes, too time-consuming,” he said. 

The findings came from the team's analysis of different computational methods of studying gene regulatory networks. 

By contrast, computational methods can examine complex networks of interacting molecules across entire systems. The challenge for researchers is determining the accuracy of such methods. 

The IMB team undertook a thorough analysis of nine different computational methods that represented a variety of approaches. They then took the method judged most effective and applied it to real ovarian cancer data. 

“Our evaluation demonstrated that it's possible in some cases to use computational methods to gain insights into cancer biology. 

“These methods can pinpoint targets that wouldn't otherwise have been considered, which can then be validated with laboratory experiments.” 

The findings are published in the current edition of the scientific journal Genome Medicine, where it has been nominated as part of the thematic series Cancer bioinformatics: bioinformatic methods, network biomarkers and precision medicine.

Explore further: Personalising the use of chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment

More information: Subscribers can access the paper here and view the series here

Related Stories

Personalising the use of chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment

December 15, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- UCD researchers have identified a novel biomarker that can identify those women with breast cancer who will have a poor response to tamoxifen, one of the principle anti-hormone drugs used to treat the ...

CMS in 2011: A mountain of particle collision data

January 17, 2012
Datasets are the currency of physics. As data accumulate, measurement uncertainty ranges shrink, increasing the potential for discoveries and making non-observations more stringent, with more far-reaching consequences. In ...

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.