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Carnegie Mellon technique accelerates biological image analysis
Date:5/1/2008

PITTSBURGHResearchers in Carnegie Mellon Universitys Lane Center for Computational Biology have discovered how to significantly speed up critical steps in an automated method for analyzing cell cultures and other biological specimens.

The new technique, published online in the Journal of Machine Learning Research, http://jmlr.csail.mit.edu/, promises to enable higher accuracy analysis of the microscopic images produced by todays high-throughput biological screening methods, such as the ones used in drug discovery, and to help decipher the complex structure of human tissues.

Improved accuracy could reduce the cost and the time necessary for these screening methods, make possible new types of experiments that previously would have required an infeasible amount of resources, and perhaps uncover interesting but subtle anomalies that otherwise would go undetected, the researchers said.

The technique also will be applicable in fields beyond biology because it improves the efficiency of the belief propagation algorithm, a widely used method for drawing conclusions about interconnected networks.

Current automated screening systems for examining cell cultures look at individual cells and do not fully consider the relationships between neighboring cells, said Geoffrey Gordon, associate research professor in the School of Computer Sciences Machine Learning Department. This is in large part because simultaneously examining many cells with existing methods requires impractical amounts of computational time.

In many cases, computer vision systems have been shown to distinguish patterns that are difficult for humans to detect, he added. However, even automated systems may confuse two similar patterns, and the confusion may be resolvable by considering neighboring cells.

Gordon and his fellow authors, biomedical engineering student Shann-Ching Sam Chen and computational biologist Robert F. M
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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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