Bradford University student tracks 12 cancer clues

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Wanting Liu’s work at Bradford incorporated biological and computer science Wanting Liu’s work at Bradford incorporated biological and computer science

A student at Bradford University is being praised for her cutting-edge research into spotting the early signs of skin cancer.

Wanting Liu’s PhD research paper successfully identified 12 new gene markers of melanoma skin cancer and was published by the respected scientific journal PeerJ last year.

The research makes it easier to identify people at risk of the cancer, which claims 2,000 lives a year in the UK alone and could help transform how the disease is treated in the future.

Her paper turned plenty of heads in the scientific world and was last month selected as one of the top 20 out of 500 published articles in the journal, which has five Nobel Prize winners on its advisory board.

Wanting’s project brought together biological and computer science in a way not done before.

She worked in collaboration with Dr Yonghong Peng, senior lecturer in computing at the university, and Professor Des Tobin, director of the Centre for Skin Sciences, to design a computer programme to look into the genomes from people with cancer and used a new technology called ‘big data’ to find cancer gene biomarkers.

This new analytical method, developed at the university, finds genes associated with cancers and is now being applied to finding the genes associated with skin cancers.

The PhD project involved merging big data analytics techniques with skin biology expertise.

Bringing together the two technologies produced the promising new technique for finding melanoma-associated biomarkers.

Wanting, who came to Bradford University from China to study her MSC and PHD, said: “I am so happy and excited about my PhD project and the news about the top 20 selection of my paper.

“I am proud of studying this inter-disciplinary field, although it was challenge to me in the beginning.”

Once her PhD course is finished she will return to China but plans to keep close links with Bradford University.

Professor Tobin, said: “We are very pleased with the news that Wanting’s work has been selected by the PeerJ as the top 20 for 2013-2014.

“Wanting previously graduated with an MSc in biomedical science and is now doing really well developing her skills in bio-informatics with Dr Peng.

“I am delighted with this interdisciplinary work in the university. The approach developed is really showing promise in discovering genes related to human disease.”

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