Looking for Cancer Biomarkers? Google ItCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: May 22, 2012 12:59PM
PageRank is the algorithm Google uses to determine what links are relevant to a query, as well as how relevant a specific webpage is. There are more kinds of searches than Internet searchers however, and researchers at Dresden University of Technology, as reported by the Public Library of Science, have applied a form of PageRank to their search for cancer biomarkers.
Biomarkers are chemicals or materials found in the body that can be used to identify something. In the case of cancer, not only will biomarkers tell you what kind of cancer it is, but how aggressive it is as well. With 20,000 different proteins relevant to the progression of pancreatic cancer though, and not all of those obviously connected, figuring out which are the most important is very difficult. This is where PageRank comes in because after a few tweaks are applied, to adapt it from the Internet to cellular processes, it is designed to find connections and rank relevancy.
While this work does show promise, it also needs to go through very thorough verification, and very likely will require several improvements. Fortunately a Dresden-based biotech company is working on a pancreatic cancer drug, which will give an opportunity to verify some of the biomarkers the researchers found.