Today, bioinformatics is one of the major tools employed in the study of modern biology. The key reason for the proliferation of bioinformatics is the Human Genome Project, which led to the generation of massive amounts of genomic information available publicly. Bioinformatics holds significance for the use of genomic information for comprehending human diseases and in identifying new molecular targets for drug discovery.
The perpetual advancement in information technology and its expanding application into biotechnology and life sciences is fuelling the growth of the global bioinformatics market. The increasing demand for preventive care and improved disease treatment has led to increased focus on research and development for the same. These activities have resulted in vast amounts of data generation that require data management technology in healthcare.
Bioinformatics enables data processing, retrieval, integration, and management from healthcare research. It also automates the entire data processing cycle, reduces the risk of errors, enhances result accuracy, and gives quick results. Last but not the least, bioinformatics offers paper-free data storage and data access irrespective of location. These factors will enable the global bioinformatics market to reach a value of US$9.1 bn by 2018, says a new report by Transparency Market Research.
Q. Which area of life sciences study is currently most beneficial to the growth of the bioinformatics market?
A. At present, the expanding knowledge base of genetics sciences of research organizations is contributing immensely to the growth of the global bioinformatics market. As per research estimates, the number of genetic data entries is expected to double every 15 years. This massive amount of data is too large to be supported by manual data entry programs, thus players are focused on enhancing bioinformatics’ capabilities.
Q. Which is the largest application segment of the global bioinformatics market?
A. Molecular medicine dominated the global bioinformatics market in 2013. However, drug development is expected to register the highest CAGR for the forecast period from 2014 to 2020. Other application areas of bioinformatics are preventive medicine and gene therapy among others.
Q. How have developmental breakthroughs in bioinformatics been useful for disease prognosis?
A. In a recent industry development, scholars from the University of the Basque Country have developed a bioinformatics tool, WREGEX 2.0, to foresee the effect of cancer induced mutations. The software, which has been developed by a multidisciplinary team, can analyze up to 400,000 proteins every minute.
The human proteome is composed of almost 40,000 proteins and to detect mutations in each of the protein is a massive task. This provided the thrust to the three main researchers involved to get started on with the project. The initial phase involved developing a piece of software WREGEX, which was to be used to predict and decode functional motifs (shot sequence of amino acids with discrete functions). Moving on, the researchers combined the information available on all sequences of human proteins with the COSMIC catalogue that accumulates the mutations linked to cancer. This led to the development of WREGEX 2.0.
This version allows the comparison between a normal protein and a mutant, which enables to foresee the modified ‘functional motifs’ that could be linked to cancer.
This suggests that bioinformatics addresses the specific needs in data acquisition, analysis, and storage and integration that are generated as a result of genomics research.