Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What is Bioinformatics ?

Bioinformatics can defined in several ways

Bio-informatics is an integration of computer science, mathematical and statistical methods to manage and analyze the biological information.

It is a science where biology, computer science and information technology merge into a single discipline, Bio-informatics is the application of information technology to the biological science particularly genomics, with the object of discovering knowledge.

Historically the term Bio-informatics has been related particularly to the biological entities involved in the drug discovery process, covering genomics & proteomics.

Bioinformatics is the recording, annotation, storage, analysis, and searching/retrieval of nucleic acid sequence (genes and RNAs), protein sequence and structural information.This includes literature databases as well methods to access, search, categorize, visualize, retrieve, and interlink these diverse and independent pieces of information.

Three important sub-disciplines within bioinformatics involving computational biology would include:

1. The development and implementation of tools that enable efficient access and management of different types of information

2. The analysis and interpretation of various types of data including nucleotide and amino acid sequences, protein domains, and protein structures

3. The development of new algorithms and statistics with which to assess relationships among members of large data sets

One of the simple tasks used in bioinformatics concerns the creation and maintenance of databases of biological information. Nucleic acid sequences (and the protein sequences derived from them) comprise the majority of such databases. While the storage and organization of millions of nucleotides is far from trivial, designing a database and developing an interface whereby researchers can both access existing information and submit new entries is only the beginning.

The most pressing tasks in bioinformatics involve the analysis of sequence information. Computational Biology is the name given to this process, and it involves the following:

1. Finding the genes in the DNA sequences of various organisms

2. Developing methods to predict the structure and/or function of newly discovered proteins and structural RNA sequences.

3. Clustering protein sequences into families of related sequences and the development of protein models.

4. Aligning similar proteins and generating phylogenetic trees to examine evolutionary relationships.

Data mining is the process by which testable hypotheses are generated regarding the function or structure of a gene or protein of interest by identifying similar sequences in better-characterized organisms. For example, new insight into the molecular basis of a disease may come from investigating the function of homologs of the disease gene in model organisms. Equally exciting is the potential for uncovering phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary patterns. The process of evolution has produced DNA sequences that encode proteins with very specific functions. It is possible to predict the three-dimensional structure of a protein using algorithms that have been derived from our knowledge of physics, chemistry and most importantly, from the analysis of other proteins with similar amino acid sequences.

Bioinformatics as a combination of Sciences

Bioinformatics is the field of 'science in which biology, computer science, & information technology merge into a single discipline.

The ultimate goal of this science is to discover new biological insight and to create global perspective so that there is a unifying principle in biology.

There are three important sub-discipline with in Bio-informatics : -

  1. Development of new algorithms and statistics with which to assess relationships among members of large data sets.

  2. Analysis & interpretation of various types of data including nucleotide & amino acid sequences, protein domains, & protein structures.

  3. Development & implementation of tools that enable efficient access & management of different types of information,

The application of computer technology to bioengineering is called bio-informatics, In particular, it is the use of computers to manage the massive streams of data emanating from the Human Genome Project. Bio-informatics appears to be important because it will enable us to manage that more easily, it is useful for encode gene segment, develop new drug & therapies.

The challenges imposed by the growing size & complexity of the biological data, a new discipline of science was developed known as Bio-informatics, and it is a multi disciplinary subject.

It deals with the various issues related to the biological data; it includes the development of data analysis tools.

Modeling of biological macro molecules & their complexes, metabolic pathways, designing of new drugs, peptide vaccines, proteins etc.,

Bio-informatics has evolved to deal with four distinct problem areas viz.,

1. Handling & management of biological data, including its organization, control, linkages, analysis.

2. Communication among people, projects, & institutions engaged in the biological research & applications. The communication includes file transfer, remote login, and establishment of web based information resources.

3. Analysis & interpretation of the biological data through the computational approaches including molecular visualization, modeling & development of algorithms for processing of complex biological structures of data.

4. Access, search & retrieval of biological information, documents & literature.

It is a multidisciplinary subject. Though it is only a decade old, it has become very important for the growth of biosciences, biotechnology and economic prosperity of nation.

There are three main divisions of Bio-informatics

A. Molecular Bio-informatics

B. Cellular and subcellular Bio-informatics

C. Organic and Community bio-informatics.

1. Of these three, most Bio-informatics Scientists and workers work in molecular bioinformatics. The other two areas are more recent and developing areas. In next 5-10 years they are expected to occupy the main stage.

2. Cellular and sub cellular Bio-informatics includes metabolic pathways, epigenesis, and neuro bioinformatics.

3. Orgasmic and community includes species, diversity, behavior, evolution and effect of pollutants on higher as well as lower species.

4. Bio-informatics has acquired great importance due to its application in genome projects.

5. The 3 billion base pairs of human DNA was decoded only through the use of various innovative techniques and methods evolved by the Bio-informatics scientists.

6. So, Bio-informatics has become an essential component of biotech based products and process development. Pharmaceutical companies are also not the exceptions.

7. The process of drug design and development is expensive and time- consuming. But with the help of tools and techniques of Bio-informatics, there is development, which is now inexpensive. So, this aspects has tremendous impact on society. So if a newly discovered drugs is a life saving one, then the resulting gains are not only financial saving but also saving the lives of several millions of people.

8. So major pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies have set up large R&D group in bio-informatics.

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