Listen to Tim Triche from Children's Hospital Los Angeles for very long and you’ll get excited again about cancer research. I couldn’t stop listening. Which is why his interview is being published in two parts.
Now sure, like other guests we’ve had on the show, Tim calls this the “absolute golden age of biomedical research.” But Tim has a unique story. He has been, and is still - though less so now, he says - an outlier in cancer genomics. Whereas most cancer researchers talk about genes, Tim is more interested in non-coding RNA.
An avid user of microarrays, Tim begins Part 1 of the interview with a reference back to “a very interesting experiment” done at the Affymetrix research lab when the first arrays were being designed. The Affy research team put (nearly) the entire stretch of chromosome 21 onto a wafer, and in a “beautiful Science paper” showed the importance of the non-coding or inter-genic region of the genome.
Using the Affymetrix Exon array that was developed as a result of the experiment, Tim has continually demonstrated that there are indeed useful diagnostic and prognostic cancer biomarkers to be found in the non-coding RNA.
And speaking of technology from the early 2000’s, Tim argues that we should reconsider GWAS studies. Perhaps there are still some simple answers to be found when considering the whole genome and not just genes.
In Part 2, Tim vows the incredible staying power of the array technology in the clinic as well as research. He also responds to recent skepticism over whether the age of genomics is delivering on its promise.
Editor's Note: In this interview, Tim refers to an older generation Affymetrix array (GeneChip(R) Exon 1.0 ST Array). The newest array (GeneChip(R) Human Transcriptome Array 2.0) is able to measure gene and exon level expression of coding and long non-coding RNA with the ability to detect alternative splicing events.