Statistical Technique Helps Researchers Understand Tumor Makeup, Personalize Cancer Treatments
News Aug 17, 2015
Yuan Ji, director of the Program for Computational Genomics and Medicine Research Institute at NorthShore University HealthSystem and associate professor of biostatistics at The University of Chicago, described the new technique--called Bayesian feature allocation models--during a presentation titled "Bayesian Models for Heterogeneity in Human Cancers."
The successful development of personalized cancer treatments will be driven by the accurate description of the genetic composition of a patient's cancerous tumor. Recent breakthroughs in cancer genomics research reveals cells within each malignant tumor are genetically heterogeneous, possessing new and evolving DNA mutations.
Traditional one-size-fit-all approaches for treating cancer cannot eliminate all the subclones--the next generation of a mutant cell arising in a clone--within a tumor. After treatment, residual cells become resistant and repopulate a new tumor that becomes more challenging to treat. Consequently, it is important for cancer researchers to fully understand the subclonal genetics in a tumor so the disease can be attacked more effectively using combinations of drugs that target all the subclones.
To do so, the first step is to determine which subclones are present and the various types of mutations the subclones possess. Using NGS data, Ji and his collaborators developed Bayesian feature allocation models to extrapolate the number and population frequencies of subclones in a tumor sample. They also established subclonal sequence and structural mutations as part of the inference results, both of which help physicians select targeted drugs based on the models' findings.
"By applying the powerful Bayesian feature allocation models to analyze NGS data, we believe we can understand the genetic and cellular heterogeneity within each tumor and thus facilitate precision cancer treatment decisions by a patient's attending physician," said Ji, concluding his presentation.
JSM 2015 is being held August 8-13 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. More than 6,000 statisticians--representing academia, business and industry, as well as national, state and local governments--from numerous countries are attending North America's largest statistical science gathering.
In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.
Researchers published today a detailed description of the complete genome of bread wheat, the world's most widely-cultivated crop. This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.