UCPH, Beckman Coulter Genomics identify effects of cancer on protein signaling networks within human cells

Through advanced genetic algorithms and supercomputing, scientists have discovered how genetic diseases such as cancer systematically attack the networks controlling human cells, according to a pair of papers published back-to-back in CELL (17th September 2015).

Beckman Coulter Genomics, provider of expert sequencing solutions for research and healthcare institutions worldwide, announces the publishing of studies detailing the early results of the strategic collaboration between Beckman Coulter Genomics (BCG) and the Linding Lab at UCPH, Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC). By developing advanced algorithms to integrate data from quantitative mass-spectrometry and next generation sequencing of tumor samples, the researchers have been able to uncover cancer related changes to phospho-signaling networks at a global scale.

Since the human genome was decoded more than a decade ago, cancer genomics studies have dominated life science research worldwide and have been extremely successful at identifying mutations in individual patients and tumors. However, using this knowledge to develop improved cancer therapies has been severely hampered by the inability of researchers to explain and relate this data to proteins, the targets of most pharmaceutical drugs.

Using the exome sequencing services pipeline developed at BCG, researchers from the Universities of Copenhagen, Yale, Zurich, Rome and Tottori have, in two landmark studies published in CELL September 17, 2015, unraveled how mutations such as those acquired in cancer, target and damage the protein signaling networks within human cells on an unprecedented scale.

This new breakthrough allows researchers to identify the effects of mutations on the function of proteins in cancer for individual patients, even if those mutations are very rare. “The identification of distinct changes within our tissues that help predict and treat cancer is a major step forward and we are confident it can aid in the development of novel therapies and screening techniques”, said lead researcher, Professor Dr. Rune Linding, Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC) at UCPH.

These studies highlight the importance of integrating genomics data in cancer biology. High quality sequencing and bioinformatics as provided by BCG is a vital step in identifying and characterizing cancerous mutations. Services available at BCG such as whole exome sequencing, variant analysis, and RNASeq expression analysis provide research groups such as BRIC and the Linding Laboratory with access to the resources and expertise needed to support these important research efforts.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the genetic basis for each tumor is subtly different. This realization has led to healthcare centers spending millions of dollars sequencing individual patients and their tumors with the aim of utilizing this patient specific information to develop tailored, personalized therapies, with much greater efficacy. It is hoped that the novel tools described in these studies together with best-in-class driver technologies such as BCG services can provide much needed assistance to clinicians and researchers worldwide in interpreting this data. “ We are thrilled to be involved in such ground breaking studies. We place significant importance on the quality of the data we produce to allow us to support the most advanced analytics in support of our customers,” said Tim Anderson, vice president and general manager at BCG.

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