Team pits Markov chain modeling against melanoma

The modeling of gene regulatory networks as a Markov chain, with researchers monitoring chain behavior and making changes to achieve an outcome, may provide a means for cancer treatment development and clinical decision-making.

Dan Schonfeld, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wants to test the idea on melanoma cells. His goal is to take the results of mathematical analysis, transform them into a protocol for changing the network by adding chemicals to cells, and then monitoring chain behavior over time to see whether the change yields results predicted from the analysis. 

He and colleagues will use RNA interference and plasmid molecules to regulate the expression of specific genes in a melanoma network. His goal is to perturb and affect the influence of one gene on another "to move it in a better direction," he says in an announcement.

The researchers have developed what he calls a sub-area of inverse perturbation theory. "We say we know where we want to go. What is the smallest change in the network that we need to impose to guarantee that wherever we are, we're going to end up where we'd like to be," he says. 

- see the announcement