As you may recall, in a previous post, I introduced some of the biomedical informatics concepts that twoXAR uses to find new drug treatments for disease. In this post, I’d like to offer more specifics about how our work fits into wide, yet sub-divided landscape of biomedical informatics.
What often comes to mind when people think of the use of computers in the medical field is identifying patterns in clinical data. This branch of biomedical informatics, known as clinical informatics, enables researchers, physicians, and policy makers to learn new information from electronic healthcare records such as predicting disease outbreak or discovering adverse drug effects. One of the more notable clinical informatics studies revealed that Vioxx was responsible for an increased risk of heart attacks, which subsequently resulting in it being pulled from the market.
Another branch of biomedical informatics is computational molecular biology. In this field, researchers process genomic sequences to help map and understand the underlying structure of our DNA. This knowledge allows other scientists to make associations based on our genes— such as uncovering the links between heredity and disease. The work here includes powerful data processing techniques to coalesce, order, and organize the jumble of data that comes out of gene detection instruments like gene expression microarrays. The most famous computational molecular biology project was the human genome project, which was the first time society was able to sequence the entire DNA of a human being.
The field that best encompasses the twoXAR technology is translational informatics. As with clinical informatics and computational molecular biology, translational informatics uses computer science approaches such as machine learning, data mining and other statistical analysis techniques to gain new insights through computation. The biggest difference between clinical and translational informatics is that clinical informatics is concerned with finding new insights from patient data, while translational informatics is focused on translating new scientific discoveries into functional solutions for humans.
At twoXAR, we are using computational methods to find new drug treatments that have never been identified or used before. After rigorous clinical trials, we will bring these new therapeutics to your doctor so she is able to prescribe a new course of drug therapy that will produce safer and more effective results than existing treatments.
In a subsequent post I’ll talk a little more about how we use machine learning and data mining to discover new drug therapies.