Microsoft Excel Finally Stops Misreading Genes As Dates

  • POSTED ON: 07/Aug/2020

It’s no secret that the human body culminates billions of genes that combine to give shape to our characteristics and traits. Every gene is unique and helps us retain our individuality. All of these genes are recognized by a name and an alphanumeric code – symbol so that researches could become organized and meticulous. However, over the last couple of years, these genes have been renamed because the Microsoft Excel couldn’t read the symbols and kept misreading them as dates.

Now, we won’t go on and act like this is the biggest problem in the world. But Excel is the essential tool in the world of scientists as they use it regularly to conduct researches and clinical trials. In addition, the default settings of this app were designed very mundanely, and no particular aspect in mind. Hence, when you insert a gene’s alphanumeric number into the spreadsheet, for example, MARCH1 (Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1) it is converted to 1-Mar by Excel.

Now, this is actually quite frustrating for the scientists conducting researches – even dangerous as data can be misinterpreted.

Another problem is that there is no quick fix to this problem. You can turn off the auto-formatting either. So the only option left for the research conductors is to alter the data type for each column. And you know, even then, you have to fix the data and export it to a CVS file, with unsaved formatting. You may also ask the research partner to load the data minus correcting or altering the formatting – meaning dates as dates and genes as genes. You may get the results if you’re well-versed with Excel, but mistakes can still occur, and frequently.

However, HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) has come up with a concrete solution. This organization has published a new set of guidelines for naming genes that include symbols which affect retrieval as well as data handling.

Hence, from now onward, proteins and human genes they express can be named with one eye on auto-formatting of the Excel. This means that the symbol for MARCH1 is now turned into MARCHF1. Similarly, the symbol for SEPT1 is converted to SEPTN1, and so forth. Few more additions will be made to the old set of names and symbols by HGNC to avoid incoherence and confusion in future.

The guidelines to change the names are simple: consult the particular research communities to converse projected updates and notify the researchers who have published explicitly on these genes so that changes could be put in effect. So far 27 names have been changed with the consent of the consensus.

Updated 2020-08-07 at 17:42:19


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