List of chromosomes » Chromosome 11

From papyrus to the internet

Databanks: the very beginnings…

Humans have always found ways to classify the knowledge they have acquired, and then store it in encyclopedias. Databanks are just like encyclopedias, and compile anything from different plant species to protein sequences.


What is a protein?

Since 1880, scientists have known that proteins are made up amino acids. Studies on insulin revealed that a protein is, in fact, a succession of amino acids much in the way that a necklace is a succession of beads. The order in which the amino acids follow one another is known as the protein sequence.


Here is the amino acid sequence of the protein ‘insulin’:
Each letter corresponds to a molecule known as an ‘amino acid’.


Before computers…

The very first protein sequence was elucidated in the early 1950s: insulin. It took a further 15 years to obtain sixty other protein sequences which were compiled in the very first protein sequence databank – the ‘Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure’ – which was published in 1965.

Slide 3 – SF

Between 1950 and 1965, scientists sequenced about sixty proteins.

Slide 5 – SF

Currently, scientists are able to sequence over 5'000 proteins a day thanks to novel approaches. And the number increases continuously!

…and today: databanks are available online!

The moment computers made their entry, towards the end of the 1970s, it became possible to store biological data in places that were far less cumbersome than books. First stored on magnetic tapes, the data were kept on floppy discs, discs, then on CDs and finally on servers. When the internet arrived, in the 1990s, networks began to develop around the planet and databanks were becoming accessible on a global scale.



The life science boom

In parallel with the rapid development of the internet, laboratory strategies and techniques have evolved considerably.

Between 1950 and 1965, scientists managed to sequence about sixty proteins. Today, thanks to novel approaches, scientists are able to sequence a few thousand each day…and the number is growing continuously!

Choosing to share

To promote data dissemination worldwide, hence supporting research and helping it to progress faster, the life sciences chose to make all their data public. Consequently, access to the great majority of databanks is free.