Google inks deal with Autism Speaks, commits to housing 10,000 whole genomes

In the months since Google ($GOOG) unveiled its cloud-based genomics platform, the only public sign of the project's evolution has been the frequent updates to its underlying code on GitHub. That changed this week when Google Genomics signed up a customer: Autism Speaks.

Google's headquarters--courtesy of Google
Google's headquarters--Courtesy of Google

The research foundation will use Google's platform to house and share the whole genomes of 10,000 people with autism. As well as storing the data, Google will provide the tools and computing grunt needed to analyze the genomes, potentially allowing researchers from institutions that lack powerful IT systems to uncover insights in the information. Any qualified researcher who agrees to abide by a standard agreement will be able to access the data, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Google has yet to reveal the pricing of its genomics platform. And no details have emerged from the Autism Speaks deal, with both parties declining to talk figures. Google Genomics Engineering Director David Glazer told USA Today the agreement is "standard" and will help the tech giant improve its offerings. "They are buying our services and we are working with them to refine those services as we go," Glazer said.

Autism Speaks has spent the past 15 years gathering the sequence data by sending clinicians to people's homes to take samples. Having sequenced 10,000 whole genomes and accumulated other clinical data, the foundation thinks its database hides revelations about the genetic origins of the various forms of the condition. Google expects to make a portal through which researchers can access the data available within a year. Raw data should be available sooner.

- read the WSJ's article (sub. req.)
- and USA Today's take