Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has united with an autism research group and launched a new program to help scientists study autism and develop new treatment options, says a report from Wired. The research group Autism Speaks is an organization founded by Suzanne and Bob Wright when one of their grandchildren was diagnosed with autism. Bob Wright is a former vice chairman of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) and a former CEO of NBC and NBC Universal.
Massive database planned
Google and Autism Speaks will jointly handle the project called MSSNG to create the world’s largest database of genetic information on people suffering from autism. Stephen Scherer, a world-renowned geneticist, is the director of MSSNG.
The world’s largest search engine giant has been working with this organization since summer, but now it has announced that the massive database will be freely accessible by other scientists. As part of the project, the genomes of more than 10,000 individuals suffering from autism will be shared.
In a press release, Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks, said, “The best research minds in the world are going to mine this database of DNA, so we can uncover and understand the various subtypes of autism.”
Project to help answer several questions
MSSNG, valued at $50 million, is an extraordinary project that will give the global research community a podium to find out and answer some of the most puzzling questions about the disorder. The organization said after the project is completed, it will discover various forms of autism in the same way as different forms of cancers have been identified. Once the research is done, different treatments and therapies can be discovered.
Until now, scientists have sequenced more than 1,000 genomes and are working on sequencing 2,000 other genomes. The organization said one out of 68 people in the United States suffers from autism spectrum disorder, and the disorder is more common in boys.
Google’s Genomics tool will be used
Google will deploy its tool Google Genomics tool, which was launched months ago with little hype. David Glazer, director of engineering for Google Genomics and formerly director for Google Plus, said the project would help researchers search for specific regions and sequences along genomes and find sections with common variations.
This is not the first Genomics project Google has taken up in the health and medicine area. Prior to this, the internet giant has researched Parkinson’s disease, cancer and many other health problems, but the autism research is apt from the point of view of Google’s technological expertise.