June 28, 2011
Imagine an app that lets you easily navigate through the entire human genome on an iPad. Thanks to the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, now you can do just that.
The new Genome Wowser app lets you swipe, pinch, and scroll through the entire human genome – all 3 billion base pairs of it. That’s a lot of information, but the app makes it easy to browse for points of interest: just like Google Maps helps you plan a travel route, you can zoom in, out and across a chromosome with a simple pinch and spread.
If you’re trying to find a specific gene, just enter it into the search box and the app will display an interactive image of the gene’s exact location on one of 23 chromosomes. Annotations from researchers offer useful insight into the gene’s known or suspected biological functions, mutations and variants.
The app’s name comes from the Genome Browser website set up by UCSC in 2002, but with the extra “wow” factor of the incredible portability and intuitive navigation offered by the iPad platform. It is now easier than ever for geneticists and researchers to access genomic data and share it with their colleagues, especially on-the-go at meetings and seminars – all it takes is a few screen touches.
Genome Wowser also provides information on epigenetics (how genes are modified by chemical processes). All of the information is regularly updated as scientists uncover new gene data, so you’ll always have the latest information at your fingertips.
A comprehensive repository of the human genome, the app is powerful tool for geneticists and the curious-at-heart alike. Upcoming versions are set to include over three dozen additional species, including cats, dogs, chimpanzees, and 11 species of fruit flies.
You can download the Genome Wowser app – for free! – here.
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