Opportunities and Challenges Provided by Cloud Repositories for Bioinformatics-Enabled Drug Discovery

Healthcare-related bioinformatics databases are increasingly offering the possibility to maintain, organize, and distribute DNA sequencing data. Different national and international institutions are currently hosting such databases that offer researchers website platforms where they can obtain sequencing data on which they can perform different types of analysis. Until recently, this process remained mostly one-dimensional, with most analysis concentrated on a limited amount of data. However, newer genome sequencing technology is producing a huge amount of data that current computer facilities are unable to handle. An alternative approach has been to start adopting cloud computing services for combining the information embedded in genomic and model system biology data, patient healthcare records, and clinical trials’ data. In this new technological paradigm, researchers use virtual space and computing power from existing commercial or not-for-profit cloud service providers to access, store, and analyze data via different application programming interfaces. Cloud services are an alternative to the need of larger data storage; however, they raise different ethical, legal, and social issues. The purpose of this Commentary is to summarize how cloud computing can contribute to bioinformatics-based drug discovery and to highlight some of the outstanding legal, ethical, and social issues that are inherent in the use of cloud services.

This content has been updated on January, 18 2016 at 11 h 40 min.