Identifying disease biomarkers by comparing images from different scales
Biomarkers indicate a specific state, such as a disease, in a given organism. They are measurable indicators such as certain molecules in the bloodstream or specific, visible changes in a tissue sample. Identifying new, useful biomarkers is a big and potentially costly effort as tremendous amounts of data need to be analysed and compared. BioMedBridges partners are building the infrastructure to support the identification of new biomarkers for diseases such as cancer from imaging data. This is done by comparing the changes caused by certain genes in individual cells with tissue samples taken from mouse model organisms and human patients who have cancer.
The first challenge is to match up (map) the different terms used to describe cells, human and mouse tumour tissue images so they can be directly compared. This can be achieved with the Cellular Microscopy Phenotype Ontology (CMPO), which supports the annotation of images from the different domains (cell-tissue-organism). Following this, potential biomarkers can be validated by linking the images to molecular data, including cancer genome sequence and cancer expression data. The end result of this data integration effort is a narrowed-down list of potential biomarkers for cancer, allowing further study to proceed in an efficient, focussed way.