ATHENA (the Analysis Tool for Heritable and Environmental Network Associations) results in clear performance improvements for discovering gene-gene interactions that influence human traits. We employed an alternative tree-based crossover, backpropagation for locally fitting neural network weights, and incorporation of domain knowledge obtainable from publicly accessible biological databases for initializing the search for gene-gene interactions. We tested these modifications in silico using simulated datasets.
Athena is a software that allows biological models to be constructed as modules. Modules can be connected to one another without altering the modules themselves. In addition, Athena houses various tools useful for designing synthetic networks including tools to perform simulations, automatically derive transcription rate expressions, and view and edit synthetic DNA sequences. New tools can be incorporated into Athena without modifying existing program via a plugin interface, IronPython scripts, Systems Biology Workbench interfacing and the R statistical language.