11 November 2013

Mapping cancer markers: Join us!

On November 8, 2013, another biomedical project joined the distributed computing network - Mapping Cancer Markers (MCM)

Project organizers: University of Toronto, Faculty of Computer Science, Laboratory of Dr. Igor Jurisica, in collaboration with Princess Margaret Cancer Center. Technical support is provided by the IBM Life Sciences Discovery Centre (IBM Life Sciences Discovery Centre) on the basis of the World Community Grid association.

Various forms of cancer are one of the main causes of death in the world. Modern methods of treatment provide a five-year survival rate (this is considered a cure criterion) for only less than half of patients. Some forms of cancer (for example, brain or pancreas) still remain 100% fatal – doctors can only prolong the torment of patients for several years or months. The survival rate of lung cancer patients has increased to 16% only in recent years. The total number of patients in 31 leading countries of the world is estimated at 19 million people.

The causes of cancer are not only carcinogens in the environment and well–known bad habits, but also gene disorders. Many of them and especially the processes of their interaction have not yet been identified. The development of cancer is a multi–stage process that leads to uncontrolled growth of tumor cells, and then to their spread (metastasis) to other organs of the body. This process is accompanied by an increase in the activity of oncogenes, new mutations, termination, suppression or activation of proteins encoded by genes.

Malignant changes in cells can be detected with the help of so–called markers - certain sections of DNA and specific proteins associated with them. Combinations of these markers are associated with characteristic types of cancer. By the presence of certain markers in the human body, it is possible to determine its predisposition to a certain form of cancer, the development and course of the detected disease, as well as the results of therapy, which can significantly improve the quality of treatment.

For example, years of research on breast and prostate cancer have made it possible to detect markers that make it possible to diagnose cancer at an early stage, identify patients at high risk of the disease, and predict the body's response to treatment. Markers are also known for some other types of cancer, but even more of them have to be discovered, since cancer is very heterogeneous.

The authors of the Mapping Cancer Markers (MCM) project hope to discover and map clinically useful cancer markers associated with breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, lung and other organ cancers with the help of World Community Grid participants. This will require processing samples of healthy and cancer-stricken tissue samples from thousands of patients, as well as testing an astronomical number of marker combinations. At the same time, it is not possible to perform such a task by simply iterating through combinations – no computing resources will be enough for this. Instead, researchers use special heuristic methods to reduce the search space for useful markers, which will allow comprehensive mapping in a reasonable time using the computing power of the World Community Grid.

For more information about what distributed computing is and how to join it, see the article "Distributed Computing: Volunteers in the Service of Science".

We remind you that the processing of distributed computing data will not affect the performance, performance and other characteristics of your computer at all. The BOINC program runs in the background, using hardware features that are not needed at the moment and downtime – even a fraction of a second between keystrokes when printing. So this good deed will require you no more than half an hour to register, download and install the program and select the projects in which you want to participate.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru according to the materials http://distributed.org.ua/11.11.2013

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