The cloud could be a fierce new weapon in the fight against disease

 |   Monica Fisher

Everything you are — the color of your eyes, your height, the tone of your skin, whether your hair is thick or thin — is strongly influenced by a single molecule: the famous double helix called DNA. But sometimes things go wrong. Many diseases, like breast cancer and leukemia, are caused by mistakes somewhere in the 6 billion pairs of DNA chemical compounds.

But where? In this enormous, unique “database” we all possess, what is “normal” and what is a disease-causing mutation? Discovering which genomic variations are responsible for which disease is a quintessential big data problem, which is why researchers are turning to the cloud for storage and computing power.

With all the technical capability in the cloud, scientists and engineers are now racing to make sequencing and other analyses faster. In 2000, when the first human genome was sequenced, the price tag was around $100 million and it took nine months to complete the operation. Today, the cost for the full genome is around $1,000 and it can be done in about a day.

To learn more about how the cloud could change medicine, visit the Transform blog.

Monica Fischer
Microsoft News Center Staff

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