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we need bioinformatics to…
  • Bioinformatics

    This recent field of science designs software tools for research in the life sciences. Today, the quantity of biological data accumulated by laboratories is daunting. As a result, the data can no longer be dealt with ‘manually’ and bioinformatics has become an essential ally.

     

    SIB SWISS INSTITUTE OF BIOINFORMATICS

    Who are we?

    We need bioinformatics to…

    We need bioinformatics to…
  • the mechanisms of life thanks to bioinformatics programs
    Analyse and understandthe mechanisms of life thanks to bioinformatics programs
  • Sort outthe mass of biological data by creating structured databases
    the mass of biological data by creating structured databases
  • such as blood coagulation or protein synthesis
    Model biological phenomenasuch as blood coagulation or protein synthesis
  • Support experimental researchin the laboratory such as biomedical research for the development of new drugs and therapies
    in the laboratory such as biomedical research for the development of new drugs and therapies
  • on the basis of comparison, such as a protein’s function or the involvement of a gene in an illness
    Predicton the basis of comparison, such as a protein’s function or the involvement of a gene in an illness
  • Providethe scientific community with efficient computing centres
    the scientific community with efficient computing centres
  • Develop and testmodels that support and orientate research Acquire a noveland more global vision of the life sciences (systems biology)
  • The indispensable ally

    Thanks to bioinformatics, researchers can analyze, stock and visualize biological data, whose interpretation will lead to new knowledge.

    A few examples...
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    A DNA chip

    Gene fragments appear as luminous spots of variable intensity on this DNA chip. Thanks to specialised programs – such as ‘GeneChip Operating Software’ – it is possible to quantify a gene’s activity in a cell, in a given tissue (liver, intestine…), at a given moment (embryo, adult…) and in a given state (ill, healthy…).

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    Image of a laboratory experiment analysed using the ‘Melanie’ software, which was developed at SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics

    In this experiment, proteins appear as black spots of variable intensity. ‘Melanie’ is used to analyse the images that are obtained and then to compare them. As an illustration, such experiments are used to understand the influence medication can have on protein production.

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    Web page for human insulin in the ‘UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot’ database

    Created and maintained at SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, this database stores information on proteins. From bacteria to plants and mammals, over 12’000 living species are represented and more than 500’000 protein data sheets are freely accessible to scientists (and anyone else) worldwide.

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    The sequences of many genes and proteins have been compared

    An alignment program – such as T-Coffee or MUSCLE, for example – has compared the sequences one by one, letter by letter, and placed them one beneath the other to highlight their similarities or dissimilarities. Patterns that are repeated can be visualized even better by colouring them with an editing program such as Gene-Doc. This kind of comparison is used to build phylogenetic trees, for example.

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    Phylogenetic tree or tree of life

    This tree was built using the iTOL program, which was developed at SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. A tree of life helps us visualize the ties that exist between the different species, and to understand their evolution over time.

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    MSight

    The MSight program is used to visualise and compare images that combine two types of laboratory results: liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Scientists use this kind of image to compare sets of proteins and follow the evolution of illnesses such as diabetes, for example.

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    Schematic representation of human chromosome X, in the ‘Ensembl’ database

    This database stores information on the genomes of about forty organisms, such as man, mouse, zebrafish, platypus and yeast.

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    Schematic representation of glucose metabolism in the ‘KEGG’ database – the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes

    This database illustrates fundamental biological processes, such as blood coagulation or glucose uptake in our organism.