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New statistical tools being developed for mining cancer data
Date:11/14/2013

HOUSTON -- (Nov. 13, 2013) -- Researchers at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the University of Texas at Austin are working together to create new statistical tools that can find clues about cancer that are hidden like needles in enormous haystacks of raw data.

"The motivation for this is all of these new high-throughput medical technologies that allow clinicians to produce tons of molecular data about cancer," said project lead Genevera Allen, a statistician with joint appointments at Rice and BCM. "For example, when a tumor is removed from a cancer patient, researchers can conduct genomic, proteomic and metabolomic scans that measure nearly every possible aspect of the tumor, including the number and location of genetic mutations and which genes are turned off and on. The end result is that for one tumor, you can have measurements on millions of variables."

This type of data exists -- the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has compiled such profiles for thousands of cancer patients -- but scientists don't yet have a way to use the data to defeat cancer.

Allen and her collaborators hope to change that, thanks to a new $1.3 million federal grant that will allow them to create a new statistical framework for integrated analysis of multiple sets of high-dimensional data measured on the same group of subjects.

"There are a couple of things that make this challenging," said Allen, the principal investigator (PI) on the new grant, which was awarded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the NIH. "First, the data produced by these high-throughput technologies can be very different, so much so that you get into apples-to-oranges problems when you try in make comparisons. Second, for scientists to leverage all of this data and better understand the molecular basis of cancer, these varied 'omics' data sets need to be combined into a single multivariate statistical model."

For example, Allen said, some tests, li
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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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