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Computer Finds Molecules Causing Diseases

November 6, 2008

Mehdi Tahoori, assistant professor of ECE, was featured for research focused on schizophrenia, major depression & cancer at UPI.com. Researchers say they have created an algorithm that can identify genes & proteins most likely to cause such complex diseases.

U.S. scientists say they have created an algorithm that can identify genes and proteins most likely to cause complex diseases such as cancer or schizophrenia.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers led by Associate Professor Ali Abdi analyzed molecules, including genes and proteins, that interact, communicate and send regulatory signals as parts of large networks of cells.

Diseases, said Abdi, might result when such networks' genes and proteins fail to function correctly. So he and his colleagues developed a computer algorithm that calculates the vulnerability of all molecules in a network.

"We found few molecules with the highest vulnerability level," said Ali. "Nevertheless, we observed that if each of these molecules failed to function, the entire molecular network would not work … By understanding their roles and functions better, we would be able to develop more effective treatments for complex disorders …," said Abdi, adding many mental illnesses fall within the category.

The study that included Effat Emamian of Advanced Technologies for Novel Therapeutics and Assistant Professor Mehdi Tahoori of Northeastern University appears in the journal Science Signaling.