Exposing cancer more quickly

Previous methods for uncovering cancer are old and inaccurate. Now, data analysts at Norut IT Research in Norway are moving cancer treatment forward.

For many years doctors have used "spot detection" of cell samples to uncover a patient's type of cancer and the seriousness of the condition.

"This old method is complicated, time consuming and inaccurate", says Werner Van Belle, researcher at Norut IT in Tromso, Norway.

Together with cancer researchers from Bergen, Norway, he has developed a new method to analyse data from cell samples.

The new, automated data analysis from Norut IT makes it far easier than before to map a cell sample. To see how the body reacts to a type of cancer, such as leukaemia, for example, is also possible with this type of analysis.

Analyses gel samples of cell tissue by this new method means it is possible to map many different proteins in a precise manner, something that was impossible with the old method.

"This makes it easier to understand the biological processes in a cancer cell, something that can make it possible to develop technology that can predict the course of a disease within the patient," says Van Belle.

Another result of this technological development can be that doctors will be able to more easily decide on the appropriate treatment to fit a patient's needs.

This method can do both because the it more quickly determines the type of cancer and because data analysis can show the doctor how the patient will react to different medicines. Therefore, avoiding medicines with side-effects is easier and proper treatment can be begun more quickly.

Werner Van Belle earned his doctorate in data technology at the University of Brussels, Belgium. This ground-breaking work was started in October 2004 and has been carried out with the Section for Haematology at the University of Bergen and the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen.

Further development of the software for the analysis of such data is now underway in collaboration with the Department of Microbiology and Virology at the University of Tromso, Norway.

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