An evaluation of the use of the Taguchi methods to investigate complex biological interactions in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
The control of proliferation, differentiation and survival of normal and malignant
haemopoietic cells is under the control of a wide range of different factors. These
include cell:cell interactions, immune regulatory factors, hormonal influences, and local
environmental influences. However, the way in which these factors combine to regulate
the dynamics of the leukaemic cell are poorly understood. One of the main problems in
conducting these experiments is the logistical difficulty in comparing multiple variables.
For example, to design an experiment to simulate and study a biological system that
involves 13 factors each at 3 different levels requires 1,594,323 experimental runs.
Taguchi methods, on the other hand, use orthogonal arrays to create smaller, less costly
experiments that have a high rate of reproducibility. A study involving 13 factors at 3
different concentrations can be conducted with only 27 experimental runs.
The use of Taguchi methods in the discipline of life scienceis in its very early stages, as
very limited number of experiments in this field have been designed and analysed
according to the Taguchi methodology. This study was thus set to investigate the
suitability of Taguchi methods to study a biological problem with multiple factors
involved and poorly understood mechanisms.