Bioinformatics: How Computer Science is Changing Biology

Medical Informatics Bioinformatics:
How computer science is changing medicine and prediction of disease

Bioinformatics is the careful application of computers and statistics to the field of biology. It includes things such as machine learning and computing at high rate of performance in order to help solve biological problems. Currently, computational biology has been able to make great strides in the medical industry, helping to map and analyze necessary DNA and protein sequences, build detailed models for artificial organs, and even validate and design pharmaceutical drugs. While many innovations have already been established, many professionals believe that the future is just as bright.

There are a number of further advancements to look forward to as technology continues to develop and our understanding of biology grows and adapts with the statistical information. To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science program.

NJIT MSCS Bioinformatics Infograhic

Amount of Data Generated Today

DNA is the most important structure studied in bioinformatics. It makes up all organic tissues and is responsible for all strengths and weaknesses in living matter. The human genome sequence contains a sequence of as much as 3.2 billion DNA pairs. Even the smallest known DNA sequence, belonging to the Antarctic midge fly, contains as much as 99 million base pairs of DNA. In order to process such extensive information, a lot of digital space needs to be available. Currently, public informatics repositories are housing huge amounts of data, in units known as petabytes. There are millions of gigabytes of data found in one petabyte, and efficient hardware needs to be used in order to process and observe all of the available information. To understand just how large a petabyte is, it can be measured as the equivalent of just about 60,000 movies, or more than 13 years of high definition content.

Benefits of Bioinformatics

There are numerous benefits that come with the study of bioinformatics. Thanks to the dedication of so many professionals, diseases such as cancer now stand a much better chance of being understood and ultimately managed. Professionals can analyze tumor genomes in order to see how they respond to particular drugs and treatments. With the right amount of sequencing and analysis, every patient’s DNA and tumor genome can better be understood and isolated, creating a truly personalized treatment plan based on the collected information.

By analyzing the genome sequence, scientists will also be able to make better calculations on the risk of acquiring certain diseases. With such analysis, cancer outcomes can be positively influenced by increasing the screening strategies at early stages of development and reducing the exposure to non-genetic risk factors. Such levels of analysis can also help pharmaceutical companies innovate the ways that they prepare drugs for their patients. Thanks to new developments in computing and analytical technology, doctors will now have better references through which they can treat their patients efficiently and effectively.

Existing Bioinformatics Projects

There are numerous bioinformatics projects currently being developed in order to help better understand how the human body works and reacts to medications. In one project in particular, the unique genomes of 2500 unidentified people from 25 populations all over the world will be studied using DNA sequencing technology. The National Institutes of Health Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes is dedicated to archiving and distributing the results of their research. They are focused on establishing further research in medical sequencing, molecular diagnostic assays, and genome based association studies. Cloud computing companies are also lending a hand in this field. They are focusing on mapping genomes and providing dozens of ways to interpret and annotate the data.

Personal Genomics Companies

There are numerous personal genomics companies that exist to help further this field of medical science. Pathway Genomics, one such group, was successful in developing a breast cancer genetic risk test that has been ranked among the top products for 2014. In field tests and surveys, approximately two in every three participants found the technology to be extremely useful in helping them detect the development of breast cancer early. 36% of this number would go on to share the information with their physicians.

As techniques are further discussed and developed, many are eagerly awaiting a brighter future where such advancements can be used to their fullest to benefit others. Every day, more and more information is successfully compiled, based on DNA sequences and genome information. This information will be invaluable in helping doctors and scientists help their patients not only recover from existing conditions, but also optimize the ways in which they prevent them.

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