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University of Basel

09 September 2021

Statistics with a kick: Data analysis reveals cancer genes

Tracking down as yet unknown cancer genes is the first step toward new therapies. (Image: Bra┼ło / unsplash)

Researchers at the University of Basel have developed an analytical method to detect genes involved in the development of cancer. Using this approach, they were able to identify a number of new cancer genes, including one that plays a role in breast cancer.

Tracking down as yet unknown cancer genes is the basis for discovering new targets for cancer drugs. The search for cancer genes has never been more efficient, thanks to new techniques. Whereas researchers used to knock out one gene at a time in cells and then study the effect and thus the role of the gene, this can now be done in thousands of cells in parallel. With the help of special biomolecules, known as short hairpin RNAs, different genes can be switched off in a targeted manner. Such screening experiments generate huge data sets.

Researchers led by Dr. Salvatore Piscuoglio of the University of Basel and Dr. Ng of the University of Bern have developed a statistical analysis platform to systematically comb through the data sets from such screening experiments for genes involved in the development of cancer. They report on this important new tool for research in the journal Nucleic Acid Research.

The analysis also focuses on detecting genes that are specific to certain types of cancer by comparing such experiments in different cancer cell lines.

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