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Biotech Science

IT Spending in Life Sciences 11

dano1992 writes "From Cnet: Computers replace petri dishes in biological labs. "The life sciences field is poised to spend billions on IT due to a need to manage an explosion in biosciences data, and a desire on the part of drug companies to streamline drug development." But the folk who'll catch the best part of the wave are those who can work with clusters, databases and storage on a massive scale."
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IT Spending in Life Sciences

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  • So... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Roto-Rooter Man ( 520267 ) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @03:53PM (#6108410) Homepage Journal
    Are the drug companies evil this week or not?
  • Yes... and no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carldot67 ( 678632 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @06:10PM (#6109888)
    There are lots of helpful IT tools around that are used in drug discovery. These range from simple sequence alignment algorithms right through to complex ab initio protein folding code - ie quantum mechanics.

    While these programs are very helpful, they often contain shortcuts that reduce compute time. More compute crunch essentially means that these shortcuts can be removed and deeper/wider/more accurate analysis results. Which is good.

    That said, more raw crunch and capacity brings in other issues such as capacity, I/O, network, concurrence, version control, security, recovery, UPS, climate and so on and so forth. The new iron, in other words, needs looking after. So some of the new hardware is there simply to look after the other hardware, if you get my drift.

    Remember, there is more to drug discovery than meets the eye. Living systems are extremely complex. Drugs or hypotheses that look great in silico do not always pass muster in vitro never mind the real world. Moreover, FDA approval still relies on squirting compounds into cells, rats, humans etc. Until the FDA permits in silico proof of efficacy, toxicity, LD50 etc, we will need to maintain "traditional" avenues for experimentation.

    It is good stuff, though and I for one welcome the investment in new compute capacity. I am keen however that no-one is seduced by the headlines; a lot of hard work has to be done in the lab to corroborate the evidence uncovered by the computers. In my experience the data is academically interesting but is only the beginning in terms of delivering an effective therapy to the patient.

    Not knocking it - merely a reality check!

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard