Immunology researchers at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) in Dallas, Texas and attached to the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) in Seattle, Washington have found that they can rapidly expand the abilities of scientists to access information by using an interactive Web 2.0 app.
The two institutions were working on a comparative study in immune responses at the molecular level to vaccines for both influenza and pneumococcal disease. They were searching for a way to expedite the reporting of their discoveries, as well as give other researchers a chance to use their findings as well as expand upon their findings.
What they did was use iFigures! To create fully interactive representations of their data that can easily be viewed, understood, and manipulated by students, researchers, and scientists at every level.
“Our goal was to make accessing these very complex datasets simple and enjoyable for investigators who have unique knowledge of immunology or medicine, but who may not have a lot of bioinformatics or statistics experience,” explained Dr. Damien Chaussabel of the BRI. “They will be able to look up their favorite molecules and gain insights that only they, with their unique knowledge about these molecules, could obtain.”
The advantage to using an interactive application to represent the data was to streamline the entire data mining process. Rather than combing through thousands of lines of raw information, the graphical user interface lets anyone draw out the salient points from the experimental process quickly and efficiently while simultaneously discarding extraneous information that doesn’t suit their individual purposes.
The application even has social media and email components which encourage those that glean new information to share it with interested parties around the world.
“The ease with which findings can be shared puts the enormous amount of data collected by these types of systems biology studies just a few clicks away from thousands of immunology experts,” said Director of the BRI Gerald Nepom, MD, PhD,. “This publication and web portal liberate the data, which can be reanalyzed in new ways by scientists anywhere in the world to help accelerate discoveries.”
The results of the study led by Damien Chaussabel, PhD (BRI), Karolina Palucka, MD, PhD (BIIR), and Jacques Banchereau, PhD (BIIR) were that the pneumococcal vaccine incited an increase in inflammation- and myeloid-related gene activity while the influenza vaccine brought on gene activity from interferon. The working hypothesis is that both vaccines elicit immune protection using separate reactive immune pathways.