March 5, 2014

Web tool speeds pulmonary hypertension discovery

The pulmonary arterial hypertension knowledgebase (PAHKB), developed by Vanderbilt researchers, provides a useful tool for identifying PAH-related genes and signaling pathways relevant to pathogenesis.

by Denise Anthony


What can be done to accelerate the discovery of novel associations between genes and signaling pathways that could improve the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)?

PAH is a progressive, highly lethal form of pulmonary hypertension that affects more than 4,800 people in the United States. A third of patients die within three years of diagnosis.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have come up with one answer: the PAH Knowledgebase. This computational system extracts genetic data from available sources and provides online tools for data browsing, integration, pathway graphical presentation and gene ranking.

In the journal Molecular BioSystems, Zhongming Zhao, Ph.D., M.S., and colleagues reported that this integrative systems-based approach helped them rank PAH-related genes and conduct network-based functional analyses. PAHKB validated “core” genes, gene networks and signaling pathways that previously had been associated with the disease and identified some new ones. It could easily be applied to other pulmonary diseases, the researchers concluded.

The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (LM011177, HL111259, HL098743, HL108800 and HL072058).

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to