Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists develop ENDEAVOUR - a computer program for identifying disease genes

09.05.2006


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.


ENDEAVOUR

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:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When a fish becomes fluid

17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Progress in Super-Resolution Microscopy

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

How electric heating could save CO2 emissions

17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>