Breaking News
December 19, 2018 - World-first coeliac disease vaccine enters Phase 2 trials
December 19, 2018 - RNA sequencing offers novel insights into the microbiome
December 19, 2018 - A promising, effective vaccine for common respiratory disease
December 19, 2018 - Protein may slow progression of emphysema, study finds
December 19, 2018 - Studying atrial fibrillation — and exploring new frontiers in precision health
December 19, 2018 - A New Way To Get College Students Through A Psychiatric Crisis — And Back To School
December 19, 2018 - Optum, UnitedHealthcare take action to help people affected by North Carolina winter storms
December 18, 2018 - Weight change in middle-aged, elderly Chinese Singaporeans related to increased risk of death
December 18, 2018 - Immune cells sacrifice themselves to protect us from invading bacteria
December 18, 2018 - Watching brain cells fire, with a twist of gravitational waves
December 18, 2018 - 2018 in Review
December 18, 2018 - Getting the Most Out of the CLARITY Technique
December 18, 2018 - NVF shoes provide a viable option for track and road racing
December 18, 2018 - CRISPR may restore effectiveness of chemotherapies used to treat lung cancer
December 18, 2018 - New app accurately measures and charts progression of skin wounds
December 18, 2018 - Persistent Discrimination ID’d Among Physician Mothers
December 18, 2018 - Cellphone technology developed to detect HIV
December 18, 2018 - A Stanford doctor hits the field with the 49ers — as their airway management physician
December 18, 2018 - The Rise of Anxiety Baking
December 18, 2018 - Just one night of sleep deprivation increases the urge to eat
December 18, 2018 - Study reveals mechanism behind failed remyelination in MS
December 18, 2018 - New genetic testing method increases the precision of biomarker analysis
December 18, 2018 - Simple technique to effectively treat underdiagnosed cause of debilitating chest pain
December 18, 2018 - Barbershop-based medical intervention can successfully lower blood pressure, new data shows
December 18, 2018 - Food labels have caused changes in consumers’ intake and industry’s use of key additives
December 18, 2018 - Sickest children could benefit from split liver transplants
December 18, 2018 - Scientists create patient-specific model to identify most effective treatment for appendix cancer
December 18, 2018 - ‘Little Foot’ endocast reveals a small brain combining ape-like and human-like features
December 18, 2018 - New therapy for childhood blindness shows ‘very promising’ results
December 18, 2018 - Researchers discover promising new compound against Buruli ulcer
December 18, 2018 - Study finds significant use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa
December 18, 2018 - California Farm Implicated in Outbreak of E. coli Tied to Romaine Lettuce
December 18, 2018 - Mobile health has power to transform HIV/AIDS nursing
December 18, 2018 - Celiac Vaccine in Clinical Trials at Columbia
December 18, 2018 - Research into mental health first aid prompts practical guidance and resources for workplace
December 18, 2018 - Researcher conducts study to investigate peripheral blood markers of Alzheimer’s disease
December 18, 2018 - Researchers identify link between mucus in the small airways and pulmonary fibrosis
December 18, 2018 - EU Commission’s Health Policy Platform to host EKHA program on transplantation
December 18, 2018 - Survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma have high risk of developing solid tumors
December 18, 2018 - Small changes to cafeteria design can get kids to eat healthier, new assessment tool finds
December 18, 2018 - From Machines to Cyclic Compounds
December 18, 2018 - New study reveals best assessment tools to establish delirium severity
December 18, 2018 - Rice University scientists develop synthetic protein switches to control electron flow
December 18, 2018 - Home-based pulmonary function monitoring for teens with Duchenne muscular dystrophy
December 18, 2018 - Researchers identify potential target for new breast cancer treatments
December 18, 2018 - National Biofilms Innovation Centre award grant to Neem Biotech for novel anti-biofilm drug development
December 18, 2018 - Artificial intelligence and the future of medicine
December 18, 2018 - Montana State doctoral student receives grant for her work to improve neuroscience tool
December 18, 2018 - Early postpartum initiation of opioids associated with persistent use
December 18, 2018 - Russian scientists identify molecular ‘switch’ that could be target for treatment of allergic asthma
December 18, 2018 - Surgeons make more mistakes in the operating room during stressful moments, shows study
December 18, 2018 - Immune cells explode themselves to inform about the danger of invading bacteria
December 18, 2018 - Malnutrition in children with Crohn’s disease linked with increased risk of surgical complications
December 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Motegrity (prucalopride) for Adults with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)
December 18, 2018 - The long and short of CDK12
December 18, 2018 - Hologic’s Cynosure division introduces TempSure Surgical RF technology in North America
December 18, 2018 - CMR Surgical partners with Nicholson Center to launch U.S.-based training program for Versius
December 18, 2018 - Findings reinforce guidelines for cautious use of antipsychotics in younger populations
December 18, 2018 - Study finds new strains of hepatitis C virus in sub-Saharan Africa
December 18, 2018 - New battery-free, implantable device aids weight loss
December 18, 2018 - Parental alcohol use disorder associated with offspring marital outcomes
December 18, 2018 - Novel Breast Imaging Technique Might Cut Unnecessary Biopsies
December 18, 2018 - What can a snowflake teach us about how cancer spreads in the body?
December 18, 2018 - Management of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy costs the NHS more than previously thought
December 18, 2018 - Green leafy vegetables may reduce risk of developing liver steatosis
December 18, 2018 - Veganism linked to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition if not planned correctly
December 18, 2018 - Coming Soon: A Tiny Robot You Swallow to Help You Stay Healthy
December 18, 2018 - Modified malaria drug proven effective at inhibiting Ebola
December 18, 2018 - Study finds epigenetic differences in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia
December 18, 2018 - Fitness instructors’ motivational comments influence women’s body satisfaction
December 18, 2018 - Study focuses on modification of lipid nanoparticles for successful brain cell targeting
December 18, 2018 - New gut bacteria may be effective against obesity, metabolic and mental disorders
December 18, 2018 - New two-in-one powder aerosol to upgrade fight against deadly superbugs in lungs
December 18, 2018 - Biofilms feed with swirling flows
December 17, 2018 - Study identifies specific neurological changes related to traumatic brain injury
December 17, 2018 - New study confirms geographic bias in lung allocation for transplant
December 17, 2018 - Research focuses on optimization of solid lipid nanoparticle that encapsulates Vinorelbine bitartrate
December 17, 2018 - Carpal tunnel syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
December 17, 2018 - A novel insulin accelerant
December 17, 2018 - Tips for caring for patients with disabilities, from a mother and physician
Fractals can help describe how cancer spreads in the body and the right tools to stop it

Fractals can help describe how cancer spreads in the body and the right tools to stop it

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

What can seashells, lightning and the coastline of Britain teach us about new drugs for cancer?

The answer, according to a team of researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, may revolve around fractals, the infinitely complex patterns found in nature.

Trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, snowflakes and hurricanes are all displaying or obeying fractal rules. A fractal description of many things is a story about how they grow.

In this case, fractals can also help describe how the control of insulin expression signals blood glucose regulation or how something as duplicitous as cancer spreads in the body and the right tools to stop it.

Conventional math cannot adequately model the interaction of multiple genes over multiple time frames – a necessary foundation for any cancer-fighting drugs. The study, published in Frontiers in Physiology by Mahboobeh Ghorbani, Edmond Jonckheere and Paul Bogdan of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, is the first study that accounts for the memory, cross-dependence and fractality of gene expression.

Gene expression is a tightly regulated process that allows a cell to respond to its changing environment. It enables information stored in our DNA to flow within a complex biological system. Without gene expression, a cell would not exist.

Unfortunately, according to Ghorbani, a Ph.D. candidate in Bogdan’s Cyber Physical Systems Group: “Existing models are based on nonlinear equations that can tells us which gene is responsible for a particular disease but not how these genes interact.”

“The problem with existing models is that they only see part of the network.”

The researchers laid the initial groundwork by spelling out the basic characteristics for these yet-to-be-developed mathematical tools. Ghorbani developed the software to examine and predict gene-to-gene interactions in two living bacteria: E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as baker’s yeast.

Their findings demonstrate not only that there is memory in gene expression but also that gene expression displays fractal and long-range cross-dependence characteristics within the interactions among genes.

If the world appears as a fractal, constantly changing in a predictable pattern, it is most likely because many objects in nature have fractal structure (e.g. through power laws). Also, co-dependence can explain how two cancer cells work together in one set but kill each other in another. Or, how scientists can engineer tumor cells to kill their own kind. Memory allows us to look at DNA as a program – a set of instructions that constantly check with each other. In other words, nothing in our DNA programming is random.

“Current mathematical models that exist on gene regulatory networks, do not satisfy these functions,” said Bogdan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering-systems.

“Investigating the dynamics of gene expression enables us to understand the mechanisms and patterns that drive biological organisms,” Ghorbani said. “This knowledge helps us from both scientific and engineering perspectives because we can exploit it to detect an anomaly or disease. Then, we can engineer cells to perform specific tasks such as drug delivery for cancer treatment.”

When scientists design a therapy for a particular disease, they can’t just take into account one particular gene behavior at one time, but how it interacts with other genes over multiple timescales. Otherwise they end up treating only a localized defect.

“We end up saying: ‘we developed a drug to fight this cancer, but then cancer found another way,'” said Bogdan, citing examples in which a patient receives treatment for one type of cancer, but develops another type of cancer later on.

“And not because the cancer cells have migrated or that cancer outsmarted us somehow,” he said. “It is smart if we don’t ask the right question with the right tool.”

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles