Understanding the strategy that Google employs to deliver its search results is an essential part of any SEO marketers world. However, it could also provide results of far greater importance, as researchers have used it as a base for monitoring cancer.
With a slight modification, researchers from Dresden University of Technology in Germany have found that the PageRank algorithm can rank in the region of 20,000 proteins in relation to their genetic relevancy to pancreatic cancer progression.
Using this, the researchers have found seven proteins which can be used to assess the aggressiveness of individual tumours.
Armed with such information, it is proposed that oncologists could make better decisions in the prescription of chemotherapy and other treatments.
Google’s algorithm has been used in the detection of biomarkers – molecules produced by cancer cells, a process which traditionally is time consuming and problematic.
In much the same way that the search engine interrogates web page content and its hyperlinks, the ‘cancer algorithm’ looks at how proteins are connected through their physical and regulatory interactions.
Speaking about the results, Christof Winter, the first author of the paper published in PLoS Computational Biology, said:
“Once we added the network information in our analysis, our biomarkers became more reproducible.”
The results also overlapped the findings of another study in the US, pointing to the development of far more coherent diagnostic tools for cancer professionals.
However, these are early days and there will need to be further and more extensive studies before they can be put into practice in a clinical setting.