Now that I’ve read what feels like most of the current literature on melanoma, I’ve been able to construct a model in Microsoft’s BioModelAnalyzer. The model currently recapitulates the main outputs observed experimentally upon changing various parameters, such as the mutational status of various genes implicated in melanoma. If I showed you a picture/screenshot of what the model looks like then some of you might recoil in fear at the apparent complexity of the network, whereas others will very quickly start to point out all the simplifications and omissions I am making. Since it is a model and is not trying to depict exactly what it “looks like” within a skin cancer cell, some of the abstractions are valid. However, the model will certainly benefit from inclusion of more signalling pathways, such as those involved in cell motility and metastasis, in the future.
Apart from making a little bit of progress with the model itself, it is becoming increasingly likely that next term I will get to do actual experiments on melanoma cells to test whether the in silico model can make accurate predictions.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that a lot of students on the biochemistry course, myself included, are currently slightly stressed out about the prospect of applying to various PhD programmes across the country and further afield. The deadline for the first programme I have sent an application to is on Monday, and their interviews are at the beginning of December – exciting times ahead!