A large part of drug trials fail when it turns out that the results for laboratory animals do not transfer to humans. However, the journal Bioinformatics recently published the results of new mathematical models developed at DTL’s partner CWI that are able to predict the transferability of results between different organisms.
The mathematical model developed by the researchers at CWI identifies patterns in large networks of genes to discover cellular mechanisms that are conserved throughout the course of evolution. Similar gene activity patterns in two organisms under various circumstances indicate that a particular mechanism is active in both organisms. Such a mechanism will therefore probably be affected by drugs in the same way. “Existing approaches are of limited use, as they only find conserved mechanisms when all active genes are conserved”, says Gunnar Klau, one of the leading researchers in this project. “Our models are more flexible. We look at similar activity patterns in a network of genes, and can find similar behaviour even if not all involved genes are known to have a common ancestor.”
The project is led by CWI with cooperating partners the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), the University of Bordeaux and the University of Würzburg. The algorithms are open and available online. Read more