Modern science involves sorting through mountains of data, and nowhere is this truer than in the study of genes. Modern computers have enough power to make sequencing an organism’s genome fairly easy, but that wasn’t always the case. The best way to see the difference computing power can make is to look at the Human Genome Project.
The Human Genome Project
The Human Genome Project had a simple goal. The scientists wanted to sequence every euchromatic gene in the human genome, a process that involved analyzing more than three billion base pairs of nucleotides. The scientists hoped to do it within fifteen years, but technological developments allowed them to pull it off in only thirteen.
Gene sequencing relies on a process that breaks DNA into relatively small sections. It’s possible to use chemical markers to identify the individual base pairs in a small sequence, but large sequences are impossible because it’s impossible to tell where each marker landed. Once the researchers have figured out each small sequence, they can find overlapping sections and use that information to reconstruct the entire chain.
When the project started, researchers had to do that by hand. They quickly developed programs that could automate it, but their core method was still fairly slow. Researchers realized that they were unlikely to finish within fifteen years, which brought the Celera Corporation into the picture. Celera used new programs that could handle huge sections of DNA by matching the ends of long sequences instead of looking for overlap in a variety of small sections.
That method required a lot of computing power. Celera needed a computer with about 700 linked processors to run their program, but it was enough to finish the project in nine months. A weaker computer would have taken much longer, and modern computers can do it much faster. The most powerful modern systems can sequence an individual’s genome in merely 26 hours!
How Nimbix Helps
That sort of feat requires a massive amount of computing power, but modern services such as Nimbix are making it more common. Nimbix is a cloud computing system designed to provide that power and turnkey access to important tools. Our cloud platform makes it easy to work through complex technical problems, which has the potential to make genomics even easier in the future.
Nimbix offers turnkey bioinformatics workflows that don’t require IT skills to set up. Our cloud is optimized for bioinformatics processing tasks such as gene sequencing. Results can be up to 15 times faster than other cloud solutions. One popular example is to use SMRT Portal from Pacific Biosciences, a browser-based application on the Nimbix Cloud to create, submit and monitor secondary analysis jobs as well as view and download the results. With this tool, you can align reads to a reference sequence or assemble reads into a de novo genome. You can also create interactive visualizations of assembly graphs with Bandage (a Bioinformatics Application for Navigating De novo Assembly Graphs Easily).
Getting started on the Nimbix Cloud is easy. Click here to create your free account then view and choose from our library of applications that will help you visualize and conduct your research.