Algorithms espy tumor conspirators

Cancer systems biology algorithms have led researchers to two genes that collaborate to cause an aggressive brain tumor.

Researchers from Columbia University and oncology drug discovery company Therasis found the genes by reverse-engineering the cellular network within actual tumor cells of the most lethal form of glioblastoma. Simultaneous activation of the genes leads to the cancer, the researchers report in an online edition of Nature in late December.

The team used one algorithm to represent the cellular network that controls the tumor behavior, according to an announcement. A second algorithm helped identify the master regulators of the network. The Therasis drug discovery platform, Therasis Filter, is based on algorithms licensed from Columbia University.

The analysis pointed to two genes that play their synergistic role in determining the most aggressive properties of glioblastoma--invasion of normal surrounding tissue and angiogenesis. The genes previously had no known association with brain cancer. Computational findings were confirmed via validation study.

- see the Therasis announcement
- here's the Nature article (log-in or payment required)