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.”
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
One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie
The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy