Genetics institute uses data analysis to study epigenetic alterations

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A team of scientists at the Institute of Human Genetics of the Christian-Albrechts-University and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany, is using data analysis software to study the epigenetic alterations related to several cancers, including malignant lymphoma, colorectal cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma, as well as developmental disorders and other diseases.

The team, led by Dr Ole Ammerpohl, is currently studying the raw data obtained from array-based DNA methylation analysis, including Illumina's HumanMethylation27k Bead Chip, which provides semi-quantitative data from more than 27,000 CpG loci.

'For us, a big advantage of the latest data analysis software is its speed,' says Dr Ammerpohl. 'We are using an application called Qlucore Omics Explorer, and this software makes it very easy to assign samples to defined groups, to change the applied statistical methods, to create new groups, and to modify the thresholds for items such as variance and p-value in real time, with results returned immediately.'

Products like Qlucore Omics Explorer are now making it possible for scientists to analyse proteomic, genomic and microarray data with a combination of statistical methods and visualisation techniques such as Heat maps and Principal Component Analysis (PCA).

As a result, scientists studying DNA methylation analysis and other genomic data can now analyse all of this important information in real-time, by themselves, directly on their computer screen, since the software can provide instant user feedback on all actions, as well as an intuitive user interface that can present all data in 3D.