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Bioinformatics Overview

written by: MandaSpring • edited by: Anurag Ghosh • updated: 6/1/2011

Genomic research is breaking new ground and making the reality of personalized medicine a much closer possibility. But what is Bioinformatics? Learn more about Bioinformatics and how it impacts our health and medical care.

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    Science has come up with a more cost-effective method for tracking genomic codes to predict and isolate the genes that enable diseases to prosper, bioinformatics. Translational Genomics Research Institute, TGen, is now using a form of the “bar code" to locate possible genetic problems in the three billion base human genetic codes. The new method enables researchers to track disease related genes and gives them the possibility of preventing millions of disease-related deaths every year.

    Genomics and Your Health

    Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and Genome-Wide Association (GWA) studies should be a fraction of the previous cost, according to Dr. David Craig, TGen's Neurogenomics Division associate. “Our goal is to find the genetic basis of disease. It (the new method) provides us a way to immediately use next-generation sequencing technology for studying hundreds to thousands of individuals.''

    In other words, by using bioinformatics and genome technology a broader spectrum of individual needs can be met regardless of the disease they suffer from. It is not only individualized care but it also unlocks the mystery of all diseases hiding within our genes.

    According to John Pearson, TGen's Bioinformatics Research Unit’s head, usually instead of sequencing the entire genome for say, 10 people, researchers can sequence more genes for hundreds or thousands of people.

    Bioinformatics Research

    According to Dr. James Womack, “We’ve had to develop a few new technologies specific to cattle, particularly in the statistical analysis and the breeding structure of families but as far as laboratory bench technologies, we’ve pretty much followed the lead of human genetics."

    One of the initial bioinformatics studies that Dr. Womack conducted were on bovine genomes. But, unfortunately the cattle were proven to be difficult to map due to breeding slow and not producing large numbers of offspring. But, overall, the technologies that were developed for humans were usually relevant to cattle too.

    “Genetic sequencing is the ultimate map, like knowing every inch of the road." -Dr. Womack.

    The goal is to discover functional elements during their research that actually can lead them to disease resistance.

    How Does Bioinformatics Impact Our Medical Future?

    Genomic research is opening new doors to not only treatment and cures, but disease prevention as well. If mapping genetic problems becomes common place, the genetic traits responsible for a huge variety of diseases can be identified. Scientists are able to pinpoint the disease causing genes and develop new treatments to halt the progress of the diseases before they become chronic.

    One day soon, the genomes that cause cancer and heart disease and even Muscular Dystrophy could be identified at birth (or even before) allowing for a simple treatment that prevents the disease from growing.

    Overview

    With dedicated scientists and the latest technology (Bioinformatics), we can expect new treatments and cures for all the previously deadly ailments that have affected mankind since the beginning of time. New research and scientific studies are going on all over the world and the human race will reap the benefits of longer and healthier lives.

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