O'Really?

May 31, 2007

Google Metabolic Maps

Google in the Palm of my HandThese days, new Google products and code seem to appear on a weekly basis. Take, for example, Google Gears which takes advantage of SQLite, mentioned on nodalpoint recently. They certainly don’t hang about at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. Wouldn’t it be great if Google applied some of that engineering expertise and agility to science and bioinformatics? Just imagine: we could have Google Metabolic Maps, a virtual globe of the cell for scientists everywhere…

Scientists have been drawing metabolic maps for a very long time, but unfortunately when it comes to charting and understanding metabolic pathways, we’re still at the “here be dragons” stage of bio-cartography. I’m obviously not the first person to dream of this, but imagine maps of metabolic pathways looked more like Google Earth or Google Maps, than the old fashioned style maps, many life scientists will be familiar with. Now imagine just a little more, that these maps weren’t just available on conventional screens, but we’re given the Minority Report treatment, courtesy of Mr Bill Gates and his wizzy surface magic at Microsoft. Wouldn’t that be great? Metabolic maps on an interactive tabletop computer. Just like Tom Cruise in the movies, we’d be able to effortlessly swish around metabolism (or the metabolome / proteome / genome / [insert-your-favourite]ome). Imagine if it was all open-source too, no boundaries, no passports…

Now, you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one [1,2,3].

References

  1. Zhenjun Hu, Joe Mellor, Jie Wu, Minoru Kanehisa, Joshua M. Stuart and Charles DeLisi (2007) Towards zoomable multidimensional maps of the cell Nature biotechnology 25 (5), 547-54. DOI:10.1038/nbt1304
  2. Hiroaki Kitano, Akira Funahashi, Yukiko Matuoka and Kanae Oda (2005) Using process diagrams for the graphical representation of biological networks Nature biotechnology 23 (8), 961-6. DOI:10.1038/nbt1111
  3. John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1971) Imagine
  4. this post originally published on nodalpoint with comments

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