Open Access Open Badges Research article

A network-based biomarker approach for molecular investigation and diagnosis of lung cancer

Yu-Chao Wang and Bor-Sen Chen*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Control and Systems Biology, Department of Electrical Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu 30013, Taiwan

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BMC Medical Genomics 2011, 4:2  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-4-2

Published: 6 January 2011



Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Many studies have investigated the carcinogenic process and identified the biomarkers for signature classification. However, based on the research dedicated to this field, there is no highly sensitive network-based method for carcinogenesis characterization and diagnosis from the systems perspective.


In this study, a systems biology approach integrating microarray gene expression profiles and protein-protein interaction information was proposed to develop a network-based biomarker for molecular investigation into the network mechanism of lung carcinogenesis and diagnosis of lung cancer. The network-based biomarker consists of two protein association networks constructed for cancer samples and non-cancer samples.


Based on the network-based biomarker, a total of 40 significant proteins in lung carcinogenesis were identified with carcinogenesis relevance values (CRVs). In addition, the network-based biomarker, acting as the screening test, proved to be effective in diagnosing smokers with signs of lung cancer.


A network-based biomarker using constructed protein association networks is a useful tool to highlight the pathways and mechanisms of the lung carcinogenic process and, more importantly, provides potential therapeutic targets to combat cancer.