Bioinformaticians at the University of Freiburg want to simplify the exchange of data between the authorities, institutions and laboratories that are dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To do this they are providing the technical infrastructure: their Galaxy platform can handle analysis of Big Data in the life sciences. Via public servers, scientists can gain free access to analytical tools and reproducible analytical methods.
The team at the University of Freiburg has already succeeded in applying procedures to existing SARS-CoV-2 sequencing and making this publicly accessible via Galaxy. This will in future enable newly-published data to be analyzed and compared with existing data within hours.
At present various research groups around the world are working on creating medicines to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. With the methods available on Galaxy, researchers at the Diamond Light Source institution in Oxfordshire, UK, together with Simon Bray and Gianmauro Cuccuru from the University of Freiburg, were able within just a few days to construct and test biochemical compounds using in-silico screening run on the computer. The compounds that appear to offer the greatest promise as medicines will now be synthesized and studied in more depth.
After being initiated at Penn State University in the USA, Galaxy was further developed at the University of Freiburg in the Medical Epigenetics special research area and as part of the German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure (de.NBI). The new European server is situated in the computer center of the University of Freiburg and continues to run as a community project. Data are freely accessible online. Researchers who want to use the server do not need programming skills: all settings can be made using a graphic interface. The project is being developed by the team at the University of Freiburg headed by Dr. Björn Grüning from the workgroup of Prof. Dr. Rolf Backofen at the Institute of Computer Science.