Columbia University

Technology Ventures

A Method for Using Molecular Networks in Genetic Linkage Analysis of Complex Disorders

Technology #1750

Lead Inventor: Andrey Rzhetsky STV Reference: IR 1750 and IR 1902

Problem or Unmet Need: One of the major practical goals of genetics is to find the genetic origin of diseases and to understand how genetic mutations may alter particular physiological properties in humans, animals and plants. Vast amounts of expensive data (financed both by the government of by the industry) in form of pedigrees and genotypic measurements have already been gathered. The current methods were at best moderately successful in mapping the prevalent disorders (such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and diabetes) with apparent polygenic inheritance. There is a pressing need for methods that can improve the understanding of the available data in order to use this information for effective search of novel pharmaceutical targets.

Details of the Invention: The technology is a method that could significantly improve the currently used genetic analysis approaches by using the growing in size and quality knowledge about molecular function and molecular networks. The authors presented a set of statistical models for genetic linkage analysis, which explicitly use the functional relationships between loci (genes) represented in molecular networks or in other types of molecular function databases. The authors also created a set of effective computational tools, which can be practically applied for analyzing the data on numerous multi-factorial and polygenic disorders (like mental disorders, diabetes, asthma, etc.) Vast amounts of expensive data have already been gathered and the method can readily be applied to effectively extract more information from that data. In addition, the authors presented a novel class of descriptive models designed to be used for finding relationships between multiple genes contributing to complex disorders in humans.

Applications: • The method can assist in understanding the genetic components of complex disorders and identify candidate genes for complex disorders in humans, which might lead to identifying new drugs, developing new diagnostic procedures, etc. • The invention might be used for evaluation potential side effects of newly discovered drugs through analysis of drug target known molecular interactions. • Additional possible applications include food design and food production. The goal is to understand the genetic mechanisms that affect agricultural plant / animal resistance to certain diseases and influence their nutritional value.

Advantages: • The invention should dramatically increase the power of genetic analysis as applied to complex hereditary disorders. • It integrates (within the same probabilistic model) molecular networks with the currently used genetic analysis techniques. • Presented model also does not have limitations that were present in previously published genetic-linkage models.

Patent Status: Patent pending (WO 2007/115095)

Licensing Status: Available for Licensing