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News

New tools for cancer diagnosis

CSIRO : 25 March, 2003  (New Product)
Scientists have developed powerful statistical methods that may lead to improved diagnosis and ultimately, better treatment of cancers. CSIRO Bioinformatics, a spin-off company from CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences, will highlight this alongside other CSIRO technology at the Commercialisation Forum & Fair of Ideas on 26th -28th March at Darling Harbour, Sydney.
The company hopes to generate interest among potential partners in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body change and grow out of control. Scientists can now detect these changes by examining the activity of genes in cancer cells.

'These new screening techniques generate a large amount of information about what is happening in a cancer cell, so good statistical methods are needed to work out what the most relevant information is,' says Dr David Mitchell, Business Development Manager for CSIRO Bioinformatics.

'The complexity of many cancers means that many hundreds of genes may be involved and some of them work together. This makes it difficult to develop a simple test that can distinguish between different sorts of cancer.'

CSIRO Bioinformatics has developed new statistical methods that analyse these complex differences and identify just one or two genes that are typical of different sorts of cancer.

'It's literally like finding a needle in a haystack,' says Dr Mitchell.

'Because only a few genes need to be looked at to tell what sort of cancer a patient has, pharmaceutical companies will be able to design simple, effective test kits to provide a detailed diagnosis', he explains.

The ability to accurately diagnose different types of cancers is very important in determining appropriate treatment. For patients, this means better management of their disease and better health outcomes.'

CSIRO Bioinformatics is benchmarking its technology against other cancer 'classifiers' and finding it is able to pinpoint a much smaller number of genes than the 50-100 or so identified by competing technologies.

CSIRO Bioinformatics is offering access to its technology through a data analysis service and a tailored licensing program.
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