A few years ago, Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web), urged his TED Talk audience to share raw, unstructured data in order to boost innovation and solve critical problems. The INOH API project aims to bring Berners-Lee’s vision to light.
The INOH (Integrating Network Objects with Hierarchies) “database is a highly structured, manually curated database of signal transduction pathways including” human, mice, and rats. The pathways between biomolecules accessible in the database are usually found in a text format in journals and scientific articles. The goal of INOH is to abstract information from such texts and present data “into a machine-processable form.” Developers can access the pathways contained in the database via an API.
The biomolecular data made available via the INOH database maintains more potential when unstructured (i.e. not in textual form) and widely accessible (i.e. via an API to any developer or scientist interested).
Pathway data is retrieved via keyword search or pathway retrieval search. Like many science APIs, it’s SOAP-based, but developers can access the services through many programming languages, including Perl, Python, Ruby, and Java.
Exposing biomolecular data in its raw form, and presenting the data in a widely available format could unlock secrets that lead to new medications, cures, or other groundbreaking science. Unstructured data is at the heart and soul of “Big Data,” and the potential of Big Data is endless. The INOH API is prime example of a Big Data project that really could change the world.