Bioinformatics to the People



I recently interviewed my scientist for a research project for school. Dr. Sahota is a Genetics and Molecular Biologist working at Rutgers University. Along from conducting research to figure out diseases with genetics he mentioned that genetic counseling is also what he does.

This is interesting because essentially he takes a look with a patient and looks at their family’s tree history to see if they are pre-disposed to a certain disease. Why this is significant and growing in today’s society is that we believe the key to a lot of or problems is based on genetics and if we could change it or look further into our genes, they will help us discover answers to new medicines and treatments.

One field of science that helps push this forward is bioinformatics: which is the science of collecting, analyzing and storing information such  as genetic codes. Part of the problem when it comes to treating individuals is that some symptoms for certain diseases aren’t so clear as day and night. This is why gene-sequencing technologies help but having a lot of data can cause headaches. Doctors at US Naval Medical Research Unit-6 (NAMRU-6) have recently found a new way to speed up the process sending a sequence of DNA to get analyzed from what took weeks to now you can get in a few hours.

Doctors there developed this new program called EDGE, (Empowering the Development of Genomics Expertise). This new bioinformatics tool hides common microbial-genomics tasks, such as sequencing assemblies and species identification, behind an interface that allows it’s users to create  polished analyses. Some positives that this brings is that the software itself is very cheap to use, and can be bought relatively cheap for $10,000 USD. Users can explore those and other data sets using a free demo hosted on the LANL server, and all one would have to do is download the software and then they can go on to getting the genetic codes quickly.

It’s still in the early works and they need to need to understand what the algorithms are doing, and how different parameters affect their output, however very soon this could be out to the general publics hand for our own use and seeing our own genetic codes.