Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists develop ENDEAVOUR - a computer program for identifying disease genes


Genes are the underlying cause of a large number of disorders. But identifying and studying these genes more closely is a major challenge for biotechnologists worldwide. Researchers from ESAT-SCD (Engineering Sciences) and the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to the Catholic University of Leuven have now developed ENDEAVOUR: a computer program that compiles and processes data from a variety of databases and identifies the genes that play a key role in the origin of a disorder. ENDEAVOUR will undoubtedly become an indispensable tool for identifying disease genes. In testing their program, the researchers have succeeded in identifying a gene that plays a major role in the development of ‘DiGeorge syndrome’.

Seeing the forest for the trees...

Genes play an important role in a large number of disorders - prime examples are Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. A good understanding of these genes is essential in the quest for diagnoses and treatments. But identifying these ‘key genes’ among thousands of genes is an enormous challenge. Years of effort by scientists all over the world have led to a vast amount of data, but analyzing it is complex. These days, scientists are not only concerned with generating new data but also with deciphering the existing data, and thus being able to see the forest for the trees.


To decipher these genetic data, scientists have developed the computer program ENDEAVOUR. Drawing on various databases, ENDEAVOUR gathers all the data about genes that are known to be connected with a disease or a biological process and integrates these data into a mathematical model. With the aid of this model, scientists study the similarities between the ‘known genes’ and genes whose biological function is not yet known. ENDEAVOUR then indicates whether these genes might possibly underlie a certain disorder.

Testing the method

ENDEAVOUR has been fine-tuned and tested in the laboratory. The researchers took the data for a number of known genes from the mathematical model and then entered the genes as ‘unknown’ into ENDEAVOUR. For the majority of the syndromes tested (such as Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, colon cancer, and Parkinson’s disease), ENDEAVOUR found the underlying genes and thus proved its validity.

Zebra fish enter the fray

As an extra validation of the program, the researchers used ENDEAVOUR to look for new disease genes that underlie hereditary disorders. Among other things, they wanted to identify a new gene that can be correlated with DiGeorge syndrome - a genetic disorder that affects more than 1 in 4000 newborn children. The infants have deformed features and blood vessel abnormalities in the heart. ENDEAVOUR identified one gene as a possible disease gene: YPEL1.

To confirm this mathematical prediction biologically, the researchers used the zebra fish as model system to replicate the disease. They studied zebra fish that could not produce the zebra fish YPEL1 gene. The embryos of these fish showed several abnormalities that are comparable to the symptoms of DiGeorge syndrome. This study provided the ultimate proof that ENDEAVOUR is a very useful tool for identifying new disease genes.

Identifying genes quickly

ENDEAVOUR can accelerate research into a number of disorders by providing the tools for rapidly identifying genes that play a role in the disorders.

Combining forces

Collaboration among several different research groups is not always easy to achieve, but it does usually lead to significant added value. The publication resulting from this research clearly demonstrates the importance of constructive collaboration in arriving at innovative results. Indeed, this is not the result of a single group’s research, but of the collaboration of four different research groups. The development and validation of a program such as ENDEAVOUR is possible only through the combination of a variety of skills and expertise.

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Tokyo Tech's six-legged robots get closer to nature
12.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>