The internet, which now connects almost everything in the world, has changed every aspect of the way we live, work, and socialize. It has also changed the way we do science, particularly in facilitating the dissemination of research results, but also in enabling scientific discoveries in ways previously unheard of. Here are a few examples of how the internet has affected (and even effected) genetic research.
- The Rare Genomics Institute may have enabled the first crowdfunded gene discovery. Pioneering a new funding model for rare disease research, RGI used crowdfunding to raise $3,550 to help sequence the genes of a 4-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder, and identify a previously undocumented gene mutation. [url]
- The online game Phylo is tapping gamers from all over the world to help solve the Multiple Sequence Alignment (MSA) problem. The game is designed to take advantage of human visual intelligence to improve the sequence alignment of promoter regions in 521 genes associated with diseases from 44 vertebrate species. So far, the game has produced over 350,000 solutions, with 70% of them being more accurate than the alignments produced by a state-of-the-art computer program called MULTIZ. [url]
- Is it even possible to protect the anonymity of genetic information that has been posted online? Apparently, it isn't that difficult to uncover the identities of people whose DNA has been made public for research purposes. Using an online genealogy service, in addition to information from public records, social networks, and other websites, researchers were able to find 5 out of 10 people in their study, including their relatives, identifying 50 people in total. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post