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Bioinformatics

The term ‘Bioinformatics’ was created by Paulien Hogeweg in the 1970s1, to describe the work with biological systems. Bioinformatics is the use of technology to further understand biological structures, primarily DNA base sequence - it encompasses the data collection, storing, processing, and analyzing or mining of data. It is an interdisciplinary field as it utilizes biology, computer science, math, chemistry and biological engineering.

There are two types of sequencing Bioinformatics looks at: static and dynamic. Static sequences are not continually changing, and thus permutations of nucleic acids other biological structures are analyzed for interactions and overlying patterns. Dynamic sequences are ones that are under constant changes or are in changing internal conditions, examples are sequencing work on ligands. 

Well-known contributions from Bioinformatics is the ‘Human Genome Project’2 – which is an ongoing research project that aims to map out and process the whole human base sequence. Once the data is interpreted the data can show patterns in the DNA sequence that correlates to a multitude of diseases, conditions, and can give insight on the production of treatments. Examples of diseases that are being screened are breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.

 

References

1. Hogeweg, P. (2011). The Roots in Theoretical Biology. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(3).  

2. About The Institute. National Human Genome Research Institute. Retrieved at http://www.genome.gov/27534788

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