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es taking place during an experiment -- adding a chemical or changing the temperature, for instance. This aspect of the method provides scientists with the specificity they need to weed out such introduced gene activation from fundamental gene activation pathways that form the hallmark of processes like cancer or immunity. To prove the effectiveness of this new method, Bar-Joseph studied the human cell division cycle. Considered one of the most important biological systems, the cell cycle plays a major role in cancer. Using their new method, Bar-Joseph and his colleagues identified many new human genes that were not previously found to be participants in this system.

"This new set of gene discoveries opens the way to new and more accurate models of the cell cycle system, which in turn can lead to new targets for cancer drugs," said Bar-Joseph.

The new method also overcomes synchronization loss, a vexing problem for scientists who study hundreds or thousands of cells over time, according to Bar-Joseph. Large groups of living cells that start out together at the same biological point in time eventually become asynchronized in their activities, he noted.

"You can compare a group of cells starting out in an experiment like a group of marathoners at the starting line. Over time, some marathoners will be far ahead on the track, while others will fall back." After the race begins, finding one marathoner among the thousands is difficult. Similarly, with asynchronous cells, trying to sort out a single cell response is virtually impossible. But Bar-Joseph has incorporated mathematical tools in his method that can detect genes affected by such asynchrony in a population of cells.


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Source:Carnegie Mellon University


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