SFARI announces the launch of HumanBase, a Simons Foundation interactive web server for predictions and information about human genes, pathways and disorders.
Spearheaded by Olga Troyanskaya and her team in the genomics group of the Simons Foundation Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Biology, HumanBase provides biomedical researchers with a free resource that makes human genomic, expression and interaction data accessible through sophisticated computational analysis.
Using machine learning, HumanBase combines thousands of publically available data sets to model how genes are expressed and how they function through ‘functional networks,’ HumanBase’s main visual output. “These functional networks can give a high-level picture of how genes are functionally related and their role in pathways within specific tissues in both healthy and diseased states,” says HumanBase’s project leader, Aaron Wong.
One feature that makes HumanBase unique is the ability to query gene expression, function and interactions across different tissues and cell types. As disorders can manifest in different biological contexts, cross-tissue comparisons can be instrumental to help unpack complex conditions and identify specific therapeutic targets.
Using a data-driven approach, HumanBase complements SFARI-funded curated resources like SFARI Gene. A joint application of SFARI Gene and HumanBase1 has recently illustrated its potential for autism research by contributing to unearthing new autism candidate genes. (These predictions are directly available through HumanBase gene search.)
By helping experimentalists interpret the biological meaning of complex genomic data, HumanBase ultimately informs the generation of hypotheses for follow-up experiments, thus driving research forward.