Looking for answers in the bright light of day, rather than the confined beam of a street light at night. That’s how University of Michigan researcher Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., describes the power of a new mathematical model that could have far-reaching impact on how scientists study cellular signaling pathways.
“This has the potential to be a true paradigm shift,” says Merajver, a professor in the U-M Department of Internal Medicine and co-director of the Breast Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is the senior author of a study about the new model published online March 21 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology.
Around the world, researchers scrutinize the pathways inside cells where signals travel and activate or suppress thousands of cell functions. The researchers want to learn which cellular processes are key in causing disease conditions and how to target them with new drugs. Understanding the full complexity of signaling pathways and their interactions is critical in discovering effective treatments for cancer, inflammation and other conditions that affect millions of people.
The full description of the new model in the article immediately offers scientists the opportunity to improve current mathematical models with a superior tool that can take advantage of advances in computing power, says Merajver.
“I would hope that it may help guide us much better than our own intuition to decide what our targets are,” she says. “If we can understand these pathways better, we should be able to pick more effective targets. This is the step before screening a drug. Until now, there have been very few tools to help us choose a target.”New model enables complex analysis
The authors developed the model and tested it using experimental data from a well-known signaling pathway involved in many disease states, the MAPK pathway. They found that this kind of signaling pathway naturally transmits information not just in a forward direction, but also backwards. That implies new considerations if drugs are to adequately address key targets.
In addition, the study will enable scientists to construct models that take into account interactions between two pathways, or “cross-talk,” Merajver says.
A specialist in inflammatory breast cancer, Merajver previously has discovered oncogenes that foster metastasis. Her lab has numerous plans to put the model to work immediately.
“We hope it will broaden our understanding on how to inhibit metastasis, since our lab studies this aspect of cancer; this work has many applications for normal and disease conditions,” she says.
Funding for the study came from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the National Institutes of Health.
Andrew Hyde | alfa
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy