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What are biobanks? Part 1

Biobanks are organized collections of human biological material.
Today we are going to talk on two issues that come with the encounter of biology with big data, which are at the biobanks and the genome data bases. Places where biological samples are gathered and the information coming from these studies are stored. First, we have to understand that biomedicine and big data have already met, in the sense that there is a huge amount of information being produced every day in every place, not only of genome data base, but a lot of medical. For example, we have biological samples for which we do whole genome sequences, we look for expression and the analysis of RNA, studies of proteins, metabolites… Lots and lots and lots of data.
Sometimes because they’re very interesting for biomedical purpose; in other cases that are the base information that may be used in the future. We have data for microbiome –oral, gut microbiome– we have lots of medical analytics we all know that when we go to the doctor they are going to produce lots of data on ourselves; biochemistry, immunology… In other cases, the diagnose and treatment, but what really takes a lot of information are the medical images.
Moreover, there are lots of other kind of information that also gets gathered like our demographic and social, the environment or drugs we take and the molecular profile, meaning that with all that we are in a world with huge amount of biological data in which the genomic is a big part today. For that, we have to have a look how one of the big companies IBM is launching what they call the Watson Health Initiative, in which they try to get the information through very modern and sophisticated software and making possible for every doctor to be able to deal with the huge amount of data produced.
This is something that still is exploratory right now, but this is going to expand a lot. So, in this case what they do is to deal with all this data and this data is really increasing a lot. Just to have a number, so it is seen that every single individual is going to produce more than 300 million books of information. Of course, physicians cannot keep with this growing amount of information and there are ways of making that possible through artificial intelligence and helping them to take really profit of this data. So, we have to begin with the clear idea that big data may have a very, very, very useful use in biomedical and for our own health.

Biobanks are organized collections of human biological material. They are used to produce and store a lot of associated information for research purposes. How should they be dealt with?

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