Cancer Research Center of Hawaii scientist awarded patent

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Sharon Shigemasa, (808) 586-3011
Cancer Research Center of Hawai'i
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Posted: Feb 4, 2009


Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi (CRCH) bioinformatics researcher Gordon Okimoto, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Epidemiology Program, and the University of Hawaiʻi were granted a patent for an innovative computational method for identifying genes involved in cancer. The method, called "Microarray ANalysis of InteNsities and RatIos" or "MANINI," has been used in a number of studies at CRCH to compare the activation of every known gene in normal and cancerous tissue samples, and to identify the genes that are different in cancer. The MANINI algorithm must still undergo testing to validate its effectiveness in the patient setting but appears to have a promising future in the management of cancer patient care."Based on studies using real human tumors, the MANINI algorithm has demonstrated tremendous potential in identifying a relatively small number of genes out of tens of thousands that are able to predict the recurrence and level of aggressiveness of specific cancers," states Okimoto. "This information will aid physicians plan more precise treatments tailored to individual patients, without subjecting them to unnecessary surgical trauma, radiation, or administration of excessive chemotherapeutic or biological agents."The MANINI method is unconventional as it focuses on genes with weak and erratic signals for activation that are often ignored by standard statistical methods. Okimoto has shown in a number of studies that such genes, when viewed as a group, are often strongly associated with cancer. On the other hand, genes with stronger and more consistent signals are often missing from the data, or are biologically uninteresting as a group. For many studies, Okimoto believes that MANINI will complement rather than replace standard methods for identifying genes that are useful for diagnosis and prediction of the likelihood of recurrence or of how well a patient‘s cancer will respond to treatment. "Large genomic data sets contain many different kinds of signals that are important in cancer," states Okimoto, "and it is likely that we will need more than one method to find all of them."Okimoto‘s specific areas of interest in cancer research include early diagnosis, and the prediction of cancer recurrence and response to therapy using gene activation patterns. He is also active in the field of cancer systems biology, which involves the computational modeling of cancer as a complex system based on genomic, clinical and environmental data. He has previously worked at the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) in the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), and obtained his Ph.D. under the guidance of Charles Boyd, Ph.D., former director of the CVRC, who is listed as a co-inventor on the MANINI patent along with Johann Urschitz, Ph.D., a biomedical researcher at the Institute of Biogenesis in JABSOM.