Researchers to use Google’s cloud platform to crack autism genetic code

AutismSpeaksAutism advocacy group Autism Speaks said Tuesday that it will be partnering with tech giant Google in a large-scale research that would attempt to crack the genetic codes for autism. In June 2014, Autism Speaks announced its collaboration with Google to store sequenced data from MSSNG on the Google Cloud Platform.

Researchers for the study will be collaborating with Google as the company lends its Google Genomics technology in an attempt to uncover some of the mystery that covers the autism spectrum disorder. About 10,000 individuals with autism, including their family members, will be taking part in the research that’s poised to be a breakthrough in understanding the mysterious condition.

Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring told WIRED Magazine:

“We believe that the clues to understanding autism lie in that genome. We’d like to leverage the same kind of technology and approach to searching the internet every day to search into the genome for these missing answers.”

The organization’s collaboration with Google will not only make the research dramatically easier and faster, it will also make the research incredibly cheaper.

Before Google’s collaboration with Autism Speaks, the funding required for a research of the same gravity, such as the Human Genome Project, was at $3 billion. But with Google’s technology, the research can be googledone for as little as $2,500.

The technology that will aid Autism Speaks researchers will work very similarly to how Google organizes millions of data available on the internet. The same technology will be applied to help researchers find sections in the genomes that possess common variations, and search for sequences and regions on the genomes that may be of particular interest to them.

Autism Speaks President Liz Feld hopes that the research would pave the way for more individualized and tailored treatments for individuals with autism in the future. She says:

“What matters most to us is that this research is going to allow us to uncover and understand the various forms of autism.”

 

The announcement does not come without its critics.  Boycott Autism Speaks immediately launched its own response on their Facebook Page with the following image

Not Mssng

Sources:

Marcus Wohlsen on the Wired website: Google Opens Its Cloud to Crack the Genetic Code of Autism

Business Insider: Google Teams Up With A Controversial Research Group 

Autism Speaks Launches “MSSNG” Campaign to Support Groundbreaking Whole Genome Sequencing Program

MSSNG Website

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta