Biologists in Norway have used a computer program to "read" the scientific literature and successfully predict gene interactions.
This data-mining of the "biobibliome" provides a way of dealing with the ever-increasing torrent of biological data - millions of papers a year. But even more impressively, the completely automated process can make new genetic discoveries - essentially free research.
Most scientific papers are now published online, but there's no way any person could sift through all of them. "It's beyond human cognition," says geneticist Daniel Masys from the University of California in San Diego.
So Eivind Hovig of the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Norway and his colleagues designed a computer program to do the job. They based their method on one simple assumption: if two genes are mentioned in the same paper, they must be biologically related.
The program scans through the titles and abstracts of scientific papers and picks out names of human genes. The researchers used it to search over 10 million papers on the publicly available database MEDLINE.