It has been more than a decade since the human genome project ended. The world has now grown more audacious to understand cell biology and in turn ourselves. Projects such human cell atlas bear testimony to the hope and opportunity in understanding our own DNA.
While the hope is for the good, we have still not understood cancer. Acute myeloid leukemia’s standard of care and treatment has not changed since 30-40 years (reference). New drugs still take 15-20 years to come to patients and the mechanism of action for old drugs is not fully known yet. While the genome of each human being is different, its biology is a unifying force. There are so many perspectives to each kind of cell data, it can be overwhelming for one researcher one lab to interpret it all. If we look at the papers now being published and compare with the past papers, one can see a stark difference in the number of technologies employed to capture the data, one can also see the number researchers involved, both have gone tremendously up.
There is no doubt that biology will require people of different expertise, the background to come together and unravel the mysteries. While this is great, this also means that people of different backgrounds will have to understand each other better, if the rate of drug discovery has to be increased. This also means that the interpretation has to be automated so that more people can collaborate on diverse topics.
It has been 4.5 centuries since Magellan took a Spanish expedition which proved beyond doubt that the earth is round. It has been nearly two centuries since Darwin left for a voyage which led him to Galapagos islands and ultimately resulted in a theory of evolution “Survival of the fittest”.
We are now embarking on a very similar journey and for the first time our destination is not a land, not a physical space, it is a journey to find ourselves, it is an adventure, we don’t know what we will find, we have a very rough atlas but all the pieces are not there yet. Whatever we find is going to surprise us and change us in a way that we have never imagined.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?