Harnessing The Data In DNA: Analytics And Synthetic Biology | Harnham

DNA is just one big string of data. We are, literally, made from data. Until now, it has been difficult to use that data. Scientists recently started using Data & Analytics for the development of synthetic biology, drug testing, and vaccine development. Here’s how it all works and what analytics can do for healthcare.What Is Synthetic Biology?Synthetic biology, as defined by the journal Nature, is the “design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes.” In other words, scientists make useful biological parts that mimic the natural world – only better. A great example of this is designing bacteria to identify pathogens or toxins – essentially creating a biosensor.Kind of seems the stuff of science fiction, right? It makes things that were impossible, now possible – like that biosensor.By reading, analyzing, and recreating DNA, synthetic biology helps speed things up and increase the accuracy of medical research and development. Researchers can start with a clear picture through DNA and run tests faster than ever before. Synthetic biology has only recently emerged as a field of serious study. Why? Well, it requires the ability to analyze and use tons of Data. Specifically, the DNA, which is the body’s data. Before Health Analytics, we didn’t have the ability to do that.How Else Has Analytics Helped Advance Medicine?Codex DNA, a bioengineering company, has made the first automated DNA printer – the BioXp™ 3250 system. This new system allows researchers to code and recode DNA. It turns digital info into real DNA or proteins.Most major drug companies are now using synthetic biology and data to speed up development. Todd R. Nelson, the CEO of Codex DNA, says, “Biologists, especially those that work with DNA, are the new Software Engineers.”Data analysis of DNA means researchers can run larger-scale experiments. What used to take months can now be done in days or even hours. Health analytics also allows for patient-specific treatment such as developing a cancer vaccine or treatment. For something as complex as cancer, targeted and individual treatment has the best chance of success with fewer risks.There is an estimated US$2.6-billion cost when developing a treatment. Codex DNA and other synthetic biology companies have started to bring down this cost. When it takes 10 tries to get a drug right, the 9 failed attempts gobble up a lot of money. Just imagine if it only took 5 tries to get the right drug formula. That’s the power of Analytics. What Does the Future Look Like?Experts, like the team at Codex DNA, think we will see data analytics used more and more for testing in the pharmaceutical, vaccine, and diagnostics industries. For vaccines, developers can use a synthetic “template” to see what active ingredients in vaccines creates the best immune response.With the use of data analytics, we will see shorter approval times and clinical trial success of vaccines and drug therapies. This means the public will be able to get their hands on drugs and vaccines faster than ever before. The Human Genome Project, which started in 2003, took a decade to complete. Next-generation genomic sequencing can sequence the whole human genome in a single day! Imagine the possibilities.One other exciting prospect is Data storage through DNA. Text, video, and audio can all be printed and assembled into DNA strands.Small, extremely dense and with the ability to last for millions of years, DNA data storage could be the storage method of the future. “If stored as strands of DNA,” says Todd, the CEO of Codex DNA, “all the content ever created on Facebook would fit into a small tube the size of your fingertip.”In the past year, the whole world has waited to see what would happen with COVID-19 and the vaccines. The two RNA vaccines exist only thanks to genetic testing powered by Data Analytics. These vaccines are the first of their kind, but certainly not the last. The is the future of medicine.Want to be at the forefront of the next generation of modern medicine? Interested in HealthTech, Big Data and Analytics, Life Sciences just to name a few, Harnham may have a role for you.Check out our current Life Science Analytics jobs or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 – 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.  For our Arizona Team, contact us at (602) 562 7011 or send an email to phoenixinfo@harnham.com. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.  

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