Illumina ($ILMN) is to make a 5,000-genome autism database available through BaseSpace. The deal will enable researchers to analyze the genomes of people with autism and their families using tools built into Illumina's cloud computing platform.
San Diego, CA-based Illumina is giving researchers access to the data as part of its deal with the Hartwell Autism Research and Technology Initiative (iHART), which has committed $9 million to the creation of an open-access database. New York Genome Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Simons Foundation and two outposts of the University of California are also involved. Collectively, the group is aiming to double the number of people in the database by 2017. Most of the data will be from single-nucleotide polymorphism and copy-number variation arrays.
By pairing these data to phenotypic information and deeper dives into the exomes and whole genomes of people with autism--and sharing the resource--principal investigator Dr. Dennis Wall thinks iHART can create a useful tool. "We believe that this landmark collaboration and open initiative will set the stage for major, clinically useful discoveries in the near future," Stanford University's Wall said in a statement. "The complexity of autism requires big data scientific initiatives like this that are openly accessible and act as a sandbox in which all qualified researchers can play."
Other researchers have similar ambitions. Autism Speaks is working with Google ($GOOG) to set up and share a 10,000-person database. The parallel advance of the two databases means both Google and its rival for the cloud genomics market, Amazon ($AMZN), are set to host autism repositories. Amazon Web Services underpins Illumina's BaseSpace. As well as hosting the data, Amazon supports analysis through its RedShift technology.
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