Understanding Biological Databases

A biological database is a library of life sciences information, collected from high-throughput experiment technology, scientific experiments, computational analysis, and published literature. It contains information from research areas such as proteomics, genomics, phylogenetics, microarray gene expression, and metabolomics. The type of information that is recorded in biological databases includes gene structure, function, and localization, similarities of biological structures and sequences as well as clinical effects of mutations.

Broadly, biological databases can be classified into functional, structure and sequence databases. Functional databases contain information on the role of gene products. Structure databases provide solved structures of proteins and RNA and sequence databases store nucleic acid and protein sequence. Model organism databases are a type of functional databases that store species-specific data.

Biological database are important tools because they help scientists to analyse and explain many biological phenomena such as the evolution of species, metabolism of organisms and structure of biomolecules and their interactions. This knowledge helps in the development of medications, facilitate the fight against diseases, in discovering the basic relationship among organisms and predicting certain genetic disease. This knowledge is distributed among numerous specialized and general databases, making it difficult to ensure the information consistency. Integrative bioinformatics attempts to tackle this problem by offering unified access.




Biology in the Computer Age

From the function of cells and tissues within organisms to the interaction of populations and species, biology is the study of living things. When studying, biologist collects, analyses, and interprets data. Since the beginning of the 21st century, scientists use sophisticated laboratory technology that enables them to collect data faster than they can analyse and interpret it. They have large volumes of DNA sequence data at their fingertips.

Scientist may know the function of some proteins, but how do they determine the role of new proteins? The researchers may also be interested in figuring out the parts of the DNA that control various life processes. Bioinformatics, the science of using information to understand biology, is a tool that biologists use to help them answer such questions and many others.

Bioinformatics is a subsection of the larger field of computational biology. It relies on the work of experts in pattern recognition and statistical methods. Researchers who study bioinformatics come from many fields, including computer science, mathematics, and linguistics. By providing databases, algorithms, statistical tools, and user interfaces, bioinformatics does exciting things including comparing DNA sequences and producing results that are potentially important.




Scientists Develop a New Method to Decode Large Volumes of Biological Data

Genomic data is becoming more readily available in recent years. Techniques are allowing increasingly faster, cheaper decoding – thousands of animals, microbes , and plants have been sequenced. However, this ever-increasing amount of genetic information has been a challenge: how can researchers analyze this information all the time, which may be holding better understanding of various diseases, and resolving other environmental and health issues.

In 2016, two scientists developed an Advanced Computing technique that is both faster and more accurate compared to the previous methods. This new approach spurred a revelation in the biomedical communities and many biomedical research communities are using this technique.

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High-Resolution Brain Scans Expected to Improve Detection of Concussion

Coupled with computational analysis, high-resolution brain scans could play a significant role in improving concussion detection that conventional scans miss. In a study published in PLOS Computational Biology, Sam Doesburg and Vasily Vakorin show how magnetoencephalography (MEG) could be used to detect detailed levels of neural changes compared to clinical imaging tools like MRI or CAT scans.

Trained clinicians normally use imaging tools and other self-reporting measures such as fatigue or a headache to detect concussion. Unfortunately, mild traumatic brain injury, most associated with football player collisions, doesn’t appear on conventional scans.

According to Vakorin, one of the scientists, communication changes between brain areas allow them to spot concussion from scans, in situations where CT or MIR failed. The researchers are scientists at Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience Institute based at SFU. They took MEG scans of 41 individuals of 20-44 years of age. 50 percent had been diagnosed with concussion recently.

They discovered that concussions are associated with changes in the interactions between various brains parts— in other words; there are visible changes in how brain areas communicate with one another.