New software aids RNA cocktail against cancer

With drug developers aiming to make cancer treatment more personalized, German researchers have implemented a software tool to spot genetic mutations for a program that aims to bring individualized RNA therapies to combat tumors. The group reports that the technology helped it concoct its first RNA drug cocktail for personalized cancer treatment, said Ingenuity Systems, the Redwood City, CA-based developer of the software, called Ingenuity Variant Analysis.

The German researchers at TRON, the translational oncology group at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, tapped Ingenuity's software to pinpoint genetic variants in genomic data that are driving cancer progression. Their first RNA cocktail therapy, of course, is experimental and must be proven to be safe and effective in homing in on the misfit genes behind tumors.

Ingenuity said the Variant Analysis tool, which is available in a limited release, gives researchers the ability to search through data on millions of known variants with information on how those variants relate to disease pathways, genes and biological processes. The tool strives to help researchers overcome the challenge of deriving meaning from the troves of data from next-generation sequencing (NGS) experiments. Many experts believe that informatics tools are crucial to the promise of genomics in medicine, and governments and companies have been investing heavily in development of software that enables scientists to analyze the mountains of genomic data now at their fingertips.

"Individualized therapy development is about speed and accuracy. As scientists and clinicians explore new avenues for truly individualized cancer therapy and personalized medicine, it is critical to have tools that help us quickly prioritize cancer driver variants for treatment of a particular patient," John Castle, co-head of TRON's Biomarker Development Center, said in statement. "Ingenuity Variant Analysis helped us identify 30 compelling tumor-specific variants in record time that we then used to inform our first experimental therapeutic RNA cocktail."

- here's the release