Genetic search engine will streamline research by linking disease genes to evolutionary partners

Our bodies are as vast as oceans and space, composed of a dizzying number of different types of cells. Exploration reaches far, yet the genes that make each cell and tissue unique have remained largely obscure.

That’s changing with the help of a team led by Gregorio Valdez, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

Valdez and his team designed a search engine – called EvoCor – that identifies genes that are functionally linked.

The name, a portmanteau of “evolution” and “correlation,” points to the idea that genes with a similar evolutionary history and expression pattern have evolved together to control a specific biological process.

EvoCor then compares the expression pattern of all genes to generate a list of candidate genes that function together with the query gene to drive a cellular process – from generating more energy for the cell to clearing cellular debris. The scientist can use this list for the next stage of research.

“This platform allows researchers to generate lists of candidate genes quickly and at no cost,” Valdez said. “EvoCor should speed the discovery of complex molecular mechanisms that control key cellular processes, including those that function to regenerate axons.”

Read the full, original story: Deeper than ancestry.com, ‘EvoCor’ identifies gene relationships

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