Data Analytics in Genetic Research

September 28, 2012

We’re pleased to see this excellent example of the use of analytics. ScienceDaily reveals, “Information Theory Helps Unravel DNA’s Genetic Code.” Specifically, scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi were working on one of today’s biggest biology challenges—predicting the distribution of coding and noncoding regions (exons and introns, respectively) in a previously unannotated genome. The researchers were able to speed the process using information theory techniques. The brief write up explains:

“The researchers were able to achieve this breakthrough in speed by looking at how electrical charges are distributed in the DNA nucleotide bases. This distribution, known as the dipole moment, affects the stability, solubility, melting point, and other physio-chemical properties of DNA that have been used in the past to distinguish exons and introns.

“The research team computed the ‘superinformation,’ or a measure of the randomness of the randomness, for the angles of the dipole moments in a sequence of nucleotides. For both double- and single-strand forms of DNA, the superinformation of the introns was significantly higher than for the exons.”

Studying DNA regions helps scientists better understand diseases and develop more effective treatments. Just one of the many ways data analytics can be used for something other than boosting a corporations’ bottom line.

Cynthia Murrell, September 28, 2012

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