It affects billions of people world – wide and no matter how profound the studies went into finding underlying trigger factors, the truth is we are still knee deep in the mystery of exact causes and adequate prevention therapies and intervention treatments.
In this trail of thinking, we cannot but salute the initiative of both awareness organization Autism Speaks and tech giant Google for partnering up to build the largest autism genome database.
A press release dating yesterday announces this incredible collaboration in creating a tool that will be valuable to all autism researchers in the world, in an effort to combine big data usage with medical research:
Autism Speaks will store data from AUT10K on Google Cloud Platform. Most significantly, this database will be an open resource to support autism research. Autism Speaks has accumulated the largest private collection of DNA samples, known as the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) from 12,000 autism cases with diagnoses and detailed phenotyping. AGRE has been a strategic resource for the autism research community for over 15 years and is valued at $25 million dollars. The amount of data collected by AUT10K creates unique challenges for storing, analyzing, and providing remote access to the research. Google Cloud Platform provides the engineering innovation needed to address those challenges. Connecting biological discoveries with the very best in large-scale cloud storage and computation will advance the field of genomics research.
This collaboration is not only worth $50 million dollars (the value of the Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K)), but is one of the finest examples of business, technology and medicine joining hands in order to make this world a better, healthier place.
According to the news, this collaboration may open doors to finding causes and treatments like never before. Tech scientists and medical scientists alike praise this initiative and consider it a game changer. And, if all works out, Google may move forward from building the largest autism genome database and close similar partnerships to deal with cancer, AIDS and other diseases we only begin to understand today.
In the words of autism researcher Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele from the Vanderbilt University autism research institute,
Only by understanding autism risk can we begin to develop treatments that target not just the symptoms but the root causes of autism spectrum disorder.
It looks like Google and Autism Speaks are set to change the world and give hope to billions of autistic people and their families. While this is not the first time medicine and technology (together with cloud computing and Big Data usage) join forces towards treating different diseases, this particular partnership is something to look forward to.