Computational tool helps to illuminate hidden mutations

Memphis, Tennessee, June 6, 2020

Researcher smiling at camera with arms crossed.

Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Computational Biology chair, helped develop a tool that improves identification of cancer-causing mutations in genomes.

Just as a head lamp helps reveal hidden risks, St. Jude researchers have developed a powerful tool to help identify cancer-causing mutations in patients’ genomes.

The tool combines math and biology to find alterations in tumor cells that drive patients’ cancer. The method is called cis-expression or cis-X and is publicly available on St. Jude Cloud and GitHub.

The method was developed to study DNA that does not encode genes but does regulate gene activity. This DNA makes up 98% of the genome. Until now, it has been difficult to search this DNA for mutations.

St. Jude researchers developed the tool to change that. Researchers used the method to identify known and novel oncogenes in leukemia and solid tumors, including in adult cancers.

“Cis-X is a fundamental change from existing approaches,” says Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Computational Biology chair. “The method will help us develop a more complete picture of what causes cancer and advance treatment for children and adults.”

Nature Genetics published a report on this work.

Read the full news release. 

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