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University of Bradford student finds new way to spot skin cancer

Published: 2014/03/11

A University of Bradford student has developed a new method to identify the earliest signs of skin cancer.

Ms Wanting Liu, a PhD student from the University of Bradford has received praise on her paper looking at new techniques to identify skin cancer.

Wanting’s paper has successfully identified 12 new gene markers of melanoma skin cancer and was published by the Peerj last year. The PeerJ journal is a new journal with an advisory board including five Nobel Prize winners and was selected as one of "Ten Top Tech Innovators" for the year by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Wanting’s paper has attracted large amount of attention since it was published, and has been selected as one of the top 20 papers out of 500 published articles.

Ms Wanting Liu worked in collaboration with Dr Yonghong Peng and Professor Des Tobin from the University to design a computer programme to look into the genomes from people with cancer, using a new technology called 'big data' to find cancer gene biomarkers. This new analytics method, developed at the University, finds genes associated with cancers and is now being applied to finding the genes that are associated with skin cancers.

Wanting's PhD project involved merging of ‘big data’ analytics techniques and was supervised by Dr Yonghong Peng, Senior Lecturer in Computing at the University, combined with the skin biology expertise supervised by Professor Tobin. Bringing together these two technologies has produced this new powerful technique for finding melanoma-associated biomarkers.

Wanting Liu 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 interdisciplinary field although it was challenge to me in the beginning."

Professor Tobin, Director of Centre for the Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford, 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 a MSc in biomedical science and is now doing really well developing her skills in Bioinformatics 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."

Over 200,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year, with over fifty thousand people losing their life to it. In the UK alone, over two thousand people die from malignant melanoma every year.

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