A new computation method leads the analysis of genetic changes in cancer patients in a few hours
October 26, 2014
Professors of the University of Oviedo Xose S. Puente and Carlos López-Otín have participated in the research, published today by the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology. SMUFIN is able to detect in a simple, quick and precise way the genetic alterations that are responsible for the appearance and progression of tumors
A new computational method makes it possible to detect quickly, precisely and simply the genomic changes that are responsible for the appearance and progression of tumors. This method, called SMUFIN (Somatic Mutations Finder), is able to analyze the complete genome of a tumor and detect its mutations in a few hours, and it even can find alterations that, until now, remain hidden even with methods that required supercomputers to be used for weeks on end.
The prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology is publishing the article today, describing the features of SMUFIN, which has been developed by the group of computational genomics of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - National Center of Supercomputing (BSC-CNS), led by the Professor of the ICREA Dr. David Torrents, in collaboration with research groups of the Clinic Hospital of the Biomedical Research Institute Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) of Barcelona, the Institute of Oncology of the University of Oviedo (IUOPA), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, Heidelberg) and the National Center of Genomic Analysis (CNAG, Barcelona).
Progress in the research of aggressive tumors
The article published on Nature Biotechnology reflects how SMUFIN, apart from accelerating and reducing the cost of the analysis, is able to discover genetic alterations in aggressive tumors that are difficult to detect. The analysis made with SMUFIN of two types of aggressive tumors, one of the blood (mantle cell lymphoma) and one of the nervous system (Pediatric Medulloblastoma), has found, for the first time and with a precision higher than 90%, practically all the types of mutations that had taken place in its genomes, including alterations in the organization of the chromosomes that had remain hidden to current methods. This paves the way to find out how these chromosomic alterations affect the evolution and the aggressiveness of the tumor.
A boost to personalized medicine
SMUFIN is a firm and realistic step towards the horizon of personalized medicine, where the analysis of the genome of each patient will facilitate its diagnosis in a quick and precise way, and which will allow for the development and application of personalized treatments that are more efficient and less aggressive than current ones. While current methods are complex, limited and require days or weeks to fully analyze the genome of a tumor, SMUFIN is a realistic option in the process of incorporation of genomic analysis into the healthcare system, since it is able to perform in a matter of hours a precise and detailed full analysis of the genome of a tumor.
The development of SMUFIN began at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - National Supercomputing Center in 2011. Its development has taken place in two research environments in which the center participates. One is the Genome of Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia Project, directed by Elías Campo (Clinic Hospital, IDIBAPS) and Carlos López-Otín (University of Oviedo), and whose aim is to study Leukemia through the genomic analysis of more than 500 patients. The development of SMUFIN is also part of the Severo Ochoa National Program, with which the Barcelona Supercomputing Center promotes, among others, the creation of biocomputing tools capable of managing and analyzing great amounts of biomedical data needed for personalized medicines.