The Challenge of Saving Lives with 'Big Data'

Staff Writer | BBC News | February 7, 2016

Every day, more data about our lives is being generated than ever before. When it comes to saving lives, the bigger the data the better - but what to do with it all? Ninety per cent of the data in the world has been created in the past two years alone, experts estimate - and the reason for that is technological innovation. The internet, mobile phones, cameras, sensors, bank cards and social media are just some of the items responsible for the massive volume of "big data" that is currently amassed every single second.

As technology has advanced, so too have the opportunities for scientists.
Sequencing a human genome - all three billion letters of it, which denotes an individual's unique DNA sequence - used to take years to achieve. Now it takes less than a week. The information this provides is improving scientists' understanding of the genetic basis of many human diseases.

And large-scale projects such as the 100,000 Genomes Project are starting to give some families a diagnosis for their children's mystery conditions. The more genomes are analysed, the greater the hope of new and more effective treatments for rare diseases. Genomes are just one element of the move to capture more and more 'big data' in medicine and healthcare...