Researchers improve method for finding genetic mistakes that fuel cancer (video 2011)

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Memphis, Tennessee, June 12, 2011

A dramatically better computer tool for finding the genetic missteps that fuel cancer has been developed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project investigators. Researchers are using the new algorithm to help identify the chromosomal rearrangements and DNA insertions or deletions unique to cancer.

The new computational method is known as CREST, short for Clipping Reveals Structure. Using CREST, researchers identified 89 new structural differences in the cancer genomes of five St. Jude patients with a subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) known as T-lineage ALL. CREST revealed complex chromosomal rearrangements, including one that involved four chromosomes. Investigators also used the tool to find 50 new variations in melanoma cells. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. The study appears in the June 12 advance online edition of the scientific journal Nature Methods.

Featured in the video is Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Computational Biology and the study’s senior author.