Researchers Map Chaos Inside Cancer Cell

Dec 29, 2008

The thing about cancer cells is that they suck. Their DNA is all screwy. They’ve got chunks of DNA ripped out and reinserted into different places, which is just plain bad news for the cells in our body that play nice. You know, kind of like life. Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have compared the DNA of a certain type of breast cancer cell to a normal cell and mapped the differences (and similarities) with the above visualization.

The graphic summarizes their results. Round the outer ring are shown the 23 chromosomes of the human genome. The lines in blue, in the third ring, show internal rearrangements, in which a stretch of DNA has been moved from one site to another within the same chromosome. The red lines, in the bull’s eye, designate switches of DNA from one chromosome to another.

Some design would benefit the graphic so that your eyes don’t bounce around when you look at the technicolor genome but it’s interesting nevertheless.

Check out the Flare Visualization Toolkit or Circos if you’re interested in implementing a similar visualization with the above network technique.

[Thanks, Robert]

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