Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetics of cancer cells: Computational models to sort out the chaos

30.10.2015

Scientists of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg have developed a method for analysing the genome of cancer cells more precisely than ever before. The team led by Prof. Antonio del Sol, head of the research group Computational Biology, is employing bioinformatics: Using novel computing processes, the researchers have created models of the genome of cancer cells based on known changes to the genome. These models are useful for determining the structure of DNA in tumours.

“If we know this structure, we can study how cancer develops and spreads,” says del Sol. “This gives us clues about possible starting points for developing new anticancer drugs and better individual therapy for cancer patients.” The LCSB researchers recently published their results in the scientific journal “Nucleic Acids Research” (DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkv828).

“The cause of cancers are changes in the DNA,” says Sarah Killcoyne, who is doing her PhD at the University of Luxembourg and whose doctoral thesis is a core component of the research project. “Mutations arise, the chromosomes can break or reassemble themselves in the wrong order, or parts of the DNA can be lost,” Killcoyne describes the cellular catastrophe:

“In the worst case, the genome becomes completely chaotic.” The cells affected become incapable of performing their function in the body and – perhaps even worse – multiply perpetually. The result is cancer.

If we are to develop new anticancer drugs and provide personalised therapy, it is important to know the structure of DNA in cancer cells. Oncologists and scientists have isolated chromosomes from tumours and analysed them under the microscope for decades. They found that irregularities in the chromosome structure sometimes indicated the type of cancer and the corresponding therapy.

“Sequencing technologies have made the identification of many mutations more accurate, significantly improving our understanding of cancer,” Sarah Killcoyne says. “But it has been far more difficult to use these technologies for understanding the chaotic structural changes in the genome of cancer cells.”

This is because sequencing machines only deliver data about very short DNA fragments. In order to reconstruct the genome, scientists accordingly need a reference sequence – a kind of template against which to piece together the puzzle of the sequenced genome. Killcoyne continues:

“The reference sequence gives us clues to where the fragments overlap and in what order they belong together.” Since the gene sequence in cancer cells is in complete disarray, logically, there is no single reference sequence. “We developed multiple references instead,” says Sarah Killcoyne. “We applied statistical methods for our new bioinformatics approach, to generate models, or references, of chaotic genomes and to determine if they actually show us the structural changes in a tumour genome.”

These methods are of double importance to group leader del Sol, as he states: “Firstly, Sarah Killcoyne’s work is important for cancer research. After all, such models can be used to investigate the causes of genetic and molecular processes in cancer research and to develop new therapeutic approaches.

Secondly, we are interested in bioinformatics model development for reapplying it to other diseases that have complex genetic causes – such as neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Here, too we want to better understand the relationships between genetic mutations and the resulting metabolic processes. After all, new approaches for diagnosing and treating neurodegenerative diseases are an important aim at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine.”

Weitere Informationen:

http://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/22054 - Link to the scientific publication
http://wwwen.uni.lu/lcsb - Link to the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine
http://wwwen.uni.lu/lcsb/people/antonio_del_sol_mesa - Link to personal page of Prof. del Sol

Britta Schlüter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>