Autism Speaks and Google are collaborating to transform genomic research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism Speaks will use the Google Cloud Platform to address the challenges of managing, analyzing and disseminating the world’s largest library of genomic information on individuals with autism and their family members. This library is being established by the Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K).
The collaboration promises to advance breakthroughs in the understanding, diagnosis, subtyping and personalized treatment of autism, says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring.
"The AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform our understanding of autism and redefine the future of medical care for those affected by the disorder,” he explains. “Working with Google is a game-changer in this story.”
As its name suggests, the AUT10K program aims to sequence the whole genomes of 10,000 individuals in families affected by autism around the world.
Thanks to thousands of participating families, Autism Speaks already manages the world’s largest private collection of autism-related DNA samples. Its Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) has been a strategic resource for autism research for more than 15 years. Its gene data is deeply cross- referenced with anonymous behavioral and medical information.
However, the vastly larger amount of data collected by AUT10K creates unique challenges for storage, analysis and remote access. Previously, the transport of genomic information involved physically shipping hard drives. Downloading even one individual’s whole genome in a conventional manner could take hours, the equivalent of downloading a hundred feature films.