Genomics is today, and it is happening now. The ability to compile and access the vast amount of data that is procured from an individual’s genome has altered the angle at which we look at disease and opened new portals to the healthcare systems. It took 13 years of research, a thousand scientists, and $3 billion to sequence the first ever human genome. And today, it is seemingly possible to map an individual’s genome 30 times over in under 40 hours, that costs less than $1000.
The piles of data being produced from sequencing a single human genome—20,000 to 25,000 genes comprising of 3 million base pairs—is equivalent to 100 gigabytes of data. Thus, sequencing multiple human genomes would easily add up to over hundreds of petabytes of data. With the need to store data and information, big data is becoming an integral part of scientific research. Abstract genomic information is a type of big data of increasing use because of its technological improvements. There are three different types of ethical risks in association with genomic information—challenges in data storage and sharing, privacy risks, and management of incidental findings.
Big data analytics in healthcare has presented a significant role. Due to the sheer amount of data that runs by in a hospital, the margin for error is high. Big data analytics corroborates data and can rule out, unnecessary prescription negligence, reduce error and save lives. Personalizing medicine after considering an individual’s genetic blueprint can help predict ailment and identify better methods of treatment. Electronic healthcare records help in collecting medical data like diagnosis, lab tests, and medical conditions, which helps to provide quality care. Big data helps to identify hidden patterns, unknown correlations, and insights by examining large sets of data. By applying machine learning, big data can study human genomes and find the appropriate treatment or drugs, cancer included. A medication that works for some people does not necessarily have to work for others, and there are many things to consider in a single genome, and it is not possible to study each of them in detail.