Navigation Links
U of S researchers create powerful new tool for research and drug development

A University of Saskatchewan research team led by Tony Kusalik and Scott Napper has harnessed bioinformatics and molecular biology to create powerful software that promises to become a "must have" tool in drug development research labs the world over.

The software is used to analyze kinases a type of enzyme involved in virtually every cellular function, from energy use and reproduction to modifying gene expression. Licensing of the patented technology is currently underway, and a demonstration of its effectiveness recently appeared in the journal Science Signalling.

"This is a premiere example of what can be achieved through interdisciplinary and collaborative research," says Kusalik, a professor in the computer science department.

Kinases are often involved in cellular functions that go awry, such as when pathogens like viruses or bacteria "hijack" a cell's functions for their own purposes. Pathogens also have kinases of their own.

"Kinases have a central role in controlling cellular processes and are associated with many diseases. They're logical points for understanding biology and represent important treatment targets," says Napper, an associate professor of biochemistry with the U of S and senior scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac).

The standard lab tool in kinase research is the microarray, which allows researchers to analyze many different kinases within a sample simultaneously. A microarray looks like a standard microscope slide with rows of spots, each spot representing a different molecular test.

"With older methods, it was like having a little flashlight in a cave you can see, but it doesn't tell you all that is there," Napper says. "These arrays give you the whole picture but you end up with absolutely mountains of data."

The problem for Napper and fellow VIDO-InterVac senior scientist Philip Griebel was that the mountains of data were making no sense. Griebel is also a faculty member with the U of S School of Public Health.

"They knew there were problems with the methodology they were following, because the results 'weren't working out,' but they didn't have sufficient expertise in bioinformatics to come up with an alternate method. That's where we came in," Kusalik says.

Kusalik is an expert in bioinformatics, which is the application of computers and information technology to biology and medicine. One well-known application of bioinformatics is DNA sequencing, including the Human Genome Project.

For Kusalik, the problem wasn't the volume of data, but how it was being handled. Standard software for analyzing DNA microarrays doesn't work well with other microarrays. He explains that it's like using a descrambler box from one cable company to watch television from another company. You might get fuzzy glimpses of the picture, but it will be impossible to view the entire program with any clarity.

The solution was to build software tailor-made for kinases.

"By developing a technique specifically designed for kinase microarrays we are able to get more data, and with more accuracy," Kusalik says.

This claim is borne out in the research described in the Science Signalling paper, as well as by colleagues in the field. Napper says that other research groups have approached them to run their existing data sets through the new software.

"It's very brave of them it may prove some of their earlier conclusions wrong," he says.

"We're going to leave it up to other people to decide if they want to re-analyze their data. I bet there's a lot more interesting biology that's going to come out of their studies."

Contact: Michael Robin
University of Saskatchewan

Related biology technology :

1. New England Biolabs Introduces Polbase, an Information Repository of Scientific Data for Polymerase Researchers
2. In new quantum-dot LED design, researchers turn troublesome molecules to their advantage
3. Multidisciplinary team of researchers develop world’s lightest material
4. Researchers shrink tumors and minimize side effects using tumor-homing peptide to deliver treatment
5. Innovative MetaMorph® NX Software Shatters Barriers Between Researchers and Image Analysis Goals with Exclusive Visual Workflow
6. UCLA researchers demonstrate fully printed carbon nanotube transistor circuits for displays
7. Penn and Brown researchers demonstrate earthquake friction effect at the nanoscale
8. Two Top Biological Imaging Centers Offer Powerful Free Online Tool to Researchers, Educators, and Public
9. Researchers develop one of the worlds smallest electronic circuits
10. MU researchers identify key plant immune response in fight against bacteria
11. Researchers realize high-power, narrowband terahertz source at room temperature
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
 U of S researchers create powerful new tool for research and drug development
(Date:10/13/2015)... PARK, N.J. and SAN DIEGO ... (BASF) and Mast Therapeutics, Inc. have agreed to collaborate ...  Currently, excipient-grade poloxamer 188 NF, marketed by BASF under ... used in a variety of pharmaceutical and biological applications, ... Poloxamer 188 is the starting material for Mast,s lead ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Generex Biotechnology Corporation ( ... a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with MediTemp Ltd. (MediTemp) ... a proprietary cooling technology designed to improve sperm quality in ... United States and three million men in ... 44 diagnosed as infertile.  For 42% of those men, the ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... , ... Proove Biosciences, a commercial and research leader ... Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) Pain Center to ... Research Clinical Objectives Linking Genotypic and Phenotypic Association with Pain Outcomes) is one ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... Spirax Sarco, the leader in products ... CSM-C 600 compact clean steam generator . This unit is a skid ... of HTM2031, HTM2010, and EN285 standards. The CMS-C 600 generator can produce up ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:10/1/2015)... Oct. 1, 2015  Biometrics includes diverse set ... body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye retinas, facial ... of biometrics technology has been constantly increasing in ... five years. In addition to the most prominent ... recognition, other means of biometric authentication are rapidly ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... , Sept. 29, 2015 News ... productivity while also saving energy , Minimized design ... Low Power Active Mode and embedded Fujitsu PalmSecure authentication ... Fujitsu today shows that good things come ... refreshed models to its enterprise desktop and mobile portfolio. ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... , September 28, 2015 ... expected to reach USD 12.03 billion by 2020, growing ... Technological advancements such as Backside Illumination (BSI) technique to ... over the forecast period.      (Logo: ... of the chip to reduce loss and, thus, reduce ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):