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Data-handling technique finds genes to be team players in curbing brain cancer cell growth
Date:4/7/2008

BOSTON--The search for cancer genes is increasingly a matter of molecular To Tell the Truth, as scientists seek to distinguish genes actually involved in the disease from those that are imposters. Powerful gene-scanning technology often reveals hundreds or thousands of genetic irregularities in tumor tissue, making it critical for investigators to winnow out the true culprits.

In a new study in the April 8 issue of the journal Cancer Cell, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center describe a new algorithm for ranking abnormal genes according to their likelihood of contributing to a cancer. And they show that a gene identified by the algorithm as a likely restrainer of tumor growth does indeed play that role in a common type of brain cancer, and is not a mere bystander to another restrainer gene.

As the Human Cancer Genome Project begins to map the genetic alterations in different kinds of cancer, we need to be able to discriminate between alterations that truly are relevant to the disease and those that are not, says the papers senior author, Lynda Chin, MD, of Dana-Farber. Using a new algorithm developed in collaboration with Cameron Brennan, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we were able to identify genes with too many or too few copies in cancer cells.

The algorithm can be used to analyze similar genomic data generated by The Cancer Genome Atlas pilot project, a federally-led effort to explore genomic changes involved in human cancer. It is also being submitted to BioConductor, a collection of open-source computational tools for free download by researchers.

The Cancer Cell paper describes how the algorithm was applied to a study of glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer in adults and one of the most difficult malignancies to treat successfully. Chin and her colleagues performed high-resolution genomic scans of glioblastoma tumor samples and cell lines, and the result
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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