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From beaker to bits: Collaboration creates computational model of human tissue
Date:4/2/2012

ach day. The objective technique can be used to eliminate differences of opinion between doctors and as a training tool for new cancer pathologists, according to Yener and Plopper. The tool also helps fill an important gap in biological knowledge, they said.

Every budding biologist is taught a central concept: there is a relationship between biological structures like cells or organs and their functions. This structure/function relationship is well understood at some levels. For example, we know what individual brain cells are structurally comprised of and the functions they perform in the body. It is when you delve deeper into interactions between millions of different types of cells and dozens of specialized organs that our limited understanding of human biology is quickly brought to light.

"Previous biological analysis techniques simply ground up tissues and looked at things like gene expression. This is like looking at poll numbers after a vote. You don't know who voted for what or why, you only know who won the race," Plopper said. "With this new analysis we can explain how individual cells function in the system while still focusing on the entire system as a whole."

The ability to understand the complex relationship between cells in our tissues required an entirely new way to do biology, according to the scientists.

"We needed to take biology out of the Petri dish and microscope slide and lift it into a different space. We needed to integrate the interactions in the body on multiple scales," Yener said.

Yener and his computational counterparts did this by building a computational model using graph theory that linked several different biological data sets from Plopper and his biology counterparts. The biological data came from tissue samples physically removed from the human body and samples grown outside the body in the lab.

In the diagnosis of cancer, a pathologist removes a section of suspicious-lookin
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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