At least 5% of the world population suffers from a rare, hereditary disease. Until recently, the origins of these genetic disorders could be correctly identified in only half of all cases. The lack of a conclusive diagnosis prolongs uncertainty for both the patients and their families and marks the beginning of a long search, and expensive, strenuous and even unnecessary treatments.
The introduction of new, cheaper technologies for deciphering the human genome held the promise of a quicker and more accurate diagnosis of hereditary diseases. But this proved challenging -particularly because of the huge amount and complexity of the data to be processed.
The genomes of two healthy individuals show no less than four million differences or mutations. Most of these mutations are harmless, but just one extra, malignant mutation can be enough to cause a genetic anomaly. Existing analytical methods simply do not have the means to reliably and quickly find this needle in the haystack.
The eXtasy software suite developed by iMinds - STADIUS - KU Leuven researchers drastically changes this outlook. The program can trace the origins of genetic disorders twenty times more accurately than existing analytical methods (see also Hereditary Disease).
"eXtasy uses advanced artificial intelligence to combine whole sets of complex data into a global score that reflects how important a certain mutation is for a certain disease. This data can consist of networks of interacting proteins, but could also include scientific publications or even scores that estimate how harmful a mutation is for the protein in question," explains Prof. Dr.
"Searching for disease-causing mutations in a patient's genome is really like searching for one specific needle in an enormous pile of needles. eXtasy allows us to formulate more accurate diagnoses, which in turn forms the basis of customized treatments," says Prof. Dr.
"Practical applications of genome sequencing technology are possible only if variations can be interpreted accurately. eXtasy is a step in the right direction," adds Prof. Dr.
Keywords for this news article include: Genetics, Software, KU Leuven, Treatment, Machine Learning, Hereditary Disease, Emerging Technologies, Artificial Intelligence.
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2013, NewsRx LLC
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