Modern technology like Big Data and Analytics is helping in the control and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and thalassemia. Worldwide, diabetes is a leading public health concern which affects over 422 million people and results in 1.5 million mortalities every year, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). In India,it is growing at an alarming rate, with the country home to over 65.1 million people living with the disease.
Globally, thalassemia afflicts 280 million people, with 439,000 with the severe form. The ailment killed 16,800 people in 2015. However, there has been a decline in fatalities—there were 36,000 deaths in 1990. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder characterized by abnormal hemoglobin production. Generally, mild to severe anemia results along with spleen and bone problems, yellowish skin, dark urine, and slow growth in children. Monogenic diseases like thalassemia result from gene mutation.
There has been a ‘Big Data’ (huge data that cannot be analyzed using conventional statistical tools) explosion due to recent advances in DNA-sequencing technology and reduction in DNA-sequencing costs. These can aid immensely in accumulation of unexplored medical knowledge for treatment of diseases like Diabetes and Thalassemia, and even AIDs.
The big data tools for healthcare can transform research from hypothesis-driven to data-driven, opening avenues for investigation into unexplored information embedded in genomes. However, that big data needs to be analyzed: new and sophisticated Big Data Analytics tools are needed for analyzing genome-wide screens and scans of human genes.
Researchers generally face is the problem that information is voluminous and diverse. With increasing number of patients providing genome for clinical studies, data set size increases exponentially. Additionally, there are journal articles and reports, gene mapping, opinion pieces, etc.—all of which have to be accounted for. There are also studies and databases with huge amount of data. Genomic screens and scans give results for 20,000 human genes. Development of high-speed devices and the other advances lead to a veritable data tsunami.
However, this Big Data can only be realized with proper tools for integration and analysis. This needs development of new software, tools and methodology.
“Big Data tools do just that. These allow researchers to run through research papers and genetic-sequencing data, conduct high-speed analysis, go through treatment records spread across the world, getting insights into treatment of patients with specific blood group, DNA sequence, or characteristic,” said Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera.
Physicians can analyze how patients with specific genes respond to different treatments, compare them with past occurrences and make decisions based on facts and not judgment. The tools also provide access to interactive educational library featuring live streams, volumes of research and points of view, training courses, augmented reality productions, and virtual reality.
In fact, bioinformatics has emerged at the forefront of mankind’s battle against disease, aided with integration of biological techniques, statistical analytics, and information technologies translating into basic genetic, cellular, clinical, and molecular data for medical applications. Such efficient tools can help researchers better understand diseases, particularly complex ones, and aid them in the development of preventive, predictive and personalized therapeutics as well as diagnostics. This would particularly help healthcare in developing countries of Asia and Africa.
About the Author
Muqbil Ahmar is a writer, editor, columnist, technology evangelist, tech blogger, film critic, theater activist, journalist, but basically a storyteller and blogger at heart. He writes on social issues, startups, SMEs, technology, environment, economy, women empowerment, and arts and culture. You can visit his blogs https://muqbilahmarwordpress.wordpress.com/ and http://muqbilahmar.blogspot.in/ and invite bloggers, writers, technology evangelists, and others to connect with him on Twitter @muqbil_ahmar, LinkedIn and Facebook.
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