Rewriting Life

The Visible Gene

Zoom in, zoom out, scroll and annotate. Work on genetic maps, or DNA sequences, or raw data from automated sequencers. Combine different widgets or resize windows and dynamic data structures keep details in sync. That’s what you can do with software that a Berkeley, Calif., startup called Neomorphic has developed for visualizing the floods of genetic information pouring out of the Human Genome Project.

Neomorphic’s software is coded as Java applets and launched through Web browsers. Linked to gene datasets online, the applets deliver micro and macro perspectives on particular groups of genes. University of California at Berkeley researchers have used the software since November to describe more than 13,000 fruitfly genes-one every 15 minutes. Lead bioinformaticist Suzanna Lewis takes confidence knowing human eyes have gone over the data, and adds: “It’s awesome to see the genes come cranking out.”

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