Genomics

Genomics & the Cloud: What's Next?

Article Written by Avery Phillips

Saving patient data to the cloud can mean using big data to improve medicine and discover problems that doctors might have missed. Uploading an entire gene sequence and studying the sequence - a branch of molecular biology known as genomics - could have an even bigger impact on medicine as a whole in the coming years. Let's look at the good and bad of the future of genomics and the cloud.

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Personalized Gene Editing

One of the biggest advancements in recent years is CRISPR, a method of editing genes that has made editing individual genes much easier and cheaper than in the past. It can be used to fight world hunger by making plants produce more fruit or become more resistant to anything from weather, insects, or blight, and even edit a person's genes. It's not quite at the stage where it's ready for humans, but it's close. 

Now, combine an easy way to edit genes with big data. First, the patient's gene sequence is uploaded to the cloud. This lets a computer comb through and identify what could be changed with CRISPR, to either reduce the chance for disease or eliminate it entirely could be in our near future. It seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it could very soon be a reality. Using big data to essentially crowdsource the solution to medical problems is not new, however.

Google Cloud Does Genomics: A Copybook Cloud Use Case

Grazed from Forbes. Author: Ben Kepes.

Genomics is perhaps the perfect use case for the public cloud. Genomics workloads tend to have massive, yet irregular, processing needs. Researchers often need to run massive analytics workloads in order to crunch genomics data. Often, however, those workloads are needed for finite periods of time. In the old days, powering these workloads required investment in supercomputing resources – massively expensive hardware that might only be used for a short period of time.

With the advent of the public cloud, however, researchers can spin up almost unlimited amounts of computing power, but only use that power as and when they need it. It is hard to overstate just how revolutionary this is and the cloud has meant much research that wouldn’t have been viable previously, can now be performed...