‘Google Genomics’ Aims To Crack Genetic Code Of Autism

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Google embarks on a mission to pinpoint the genetic causes of autism by using a cloud-based genome database called Google Genomics to sequence genomes from 10,000 people with autism, along with their family members.

Wired interviewed David Glazer, director of engineering for Google Genomics and former director of engineering for Google Plus, who says researchers can search for particular regions and sequences along genomes to find sections with common variations. Because a single human genome can run to 100 gigabytes, having the data in a central location makes remote collaboration among researchers easier.

“You’re a lot more efficient than shipping around station wagons full of hard drives,” he said.

The project is a partnership with non-profit organization Autism Speaks, which has been cataloging and organizing genomic information on people with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for more than a decade. Now, president of Autism Speaks’ Liz Feld says she hopes that the genetic analysis results will help researchers tailor more individualized treatments.

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

To read more on the project, check out the Autism Speaks website for more information!