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Scientists develop ENDEAVOUR − a computer program for identifying disease genes

Leuven, Belgium Genes are the underlying cause of a large number of disorders. But identifying and studying these genes more closely is a major challenge for biotechnologists worldwide. Researchers from ESAT-SCD (Engineering Sciences) and the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected to the Catholic University of Leuven have now developed ENDEAVOUR: a computer program that compiles and processes data from a variety of databases and identifies the genes that play a key role in the origin of a disorder. ENDEAVOUR will undoubtedly become an indispensable tool for identifying disease genes. In testing their program, the researchers have succeeded in identifying a gene that plays a major role in the development of 'DiGeorge syndrome'.

Seeing the forest for the trees...
Genes play an important role in a large number of disorders − prime examples are Alzheimer's disease and cancer. A good understanding of these genes is essential in the quest for diagnoses and treatments. But identifying these 'key genes' among thousands of genes is an enormous challenge. Years of effort by scientists all over the world have led to a vast amount of data, but analyzing it is complex. These days, scientists are not only concerned with generating new data but also with deciphering the existing data, and thus being able to see the forest for the trees.

ENDEAVOUR
To decipher these genetic data, scientists have developed the computer program ENDEAVOUR. Drawing on various databases, ENDEAVOUR gathers all the data about genes that are known to be connected with a disease or a biological process and integrates these data into a mathematical model. With the aid of this model, scientists study the similarities between the 'known genes' and genes whose biological function is not yet known. ENDEAVOUR then indicates whether these genes might possibly underlie a certain disorder.

Testing the method
ENDEAVOUR
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Contact: Sooike Stoops
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology
8-May-2006


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