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

hat 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

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