10 June 2014
Internet giant Google and US charity Autism Speaks have announced a new collaboration as part of the efforts to analyse the genomes and clinical information from 10,000 children affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families.
Google is developing Google Genomics, a web-based application programming interface (API) for genomic data, along with related tools. It was launched earlier this year but is at present still only available to selected, approved users. Google Genomics incorporates a secure cloud-based system intended to support both private and publicly available genomic data, and to facilitate collaboration between remote groups.
In this new partnership, Google will provide the facilities for data storage and analysis for the AUT10K Autism Speaks genome-mapping programme, providing a specialised portal to make it easier for researchers to participate. It is hoped that the large genomic dataset will yield valuable insights into the causes of autism, and perhaps suggest possible avenues for further research into potential treatments.
Bob Wright, co-founder and CEO of Autism Speaks said: "This is the only way to break down the data barriers that surround autism", whilst Google Genomics’ engineering director David Glazer commented: "Modern biology has become a data-limited science…Modern computing can remove those limits".