NOV 03, 2015 4:42 AM PST

Finding the Missing Pieces of Autism

Autism affects 1 in 68 children. That’s a number that’s talked about a lot in the media and in the scientific community as well. With more children being diagnosed, more families are in need of support services, educational tools and inclusion strategies. That help might be coming in the form of a database that will be open source.
And open source database could soon help scientists research autism
The largest advocacy group for autism research and information, Autism Speaks, has launched a web-based portal for their collection of genetic information on autism. The database is called MSSNG, and the acronym doesn’t stand for anything other than a nod to the great deal of missing information (as seen in the puzzle piece logo of Autism Speaks) about autism. It’s a collection of genomes that have been acquired from people with autism. The goal is to collect 10,000 completely sequenced genomes from the Autism Genetic Research Exchange (AGRE) and other respected sources. The database is managed on the Google Cloud Platform, as well as Google Genomics and is available to qualified scientists to access and use the information to assist families affected by autism and to further research into the spectrum of disorders.

Begun in in December 2014, the MSSNG project’s goal is to provide a resource for the study of autism and to make this resource available to research professionals. While not fully complete, the first phase is now available. It’s a groundbreaking collaboration of several different leaders in the field of autism research. David Glazer from Google, Rob Ring from Autism Speaks and Stephen Scherer of SickKids Hospital and the University of Toronto are the founders of the project

The group hopes that by early 2016 the database will be complete at 10,000 sequenced genomes. With that much information in one place the aim is for researchers to have access to the database and hopefully use it to answer some of the many questions of this disorder. As it stands now there is no known cause for autism and no cure.Currently the database contains 3,540 genomes and of those 1,715 are available through the portal for research purposes.
 
In an interview with PBS News Hour, David Glazer from Google said, “ What we realized a couple years ago is that the world of biology has started to generate a lot more information than they historically had tools to work with. And that’s what we at Google are really good at, is taking large amounts of information and finding the value in that information. What we’re doing with the MSSNG project is saying, you guys are generating and gathering, from all the volunteer families, this really valuable set of information. Let us help make that information as valuable as possible.”

Dr. Robert Ring, chief science officer at Autism Speaks said in a press release,  “The development, open sharing and collaborative exploration of massive databases of genomic information, like those already available through MSSNG, will shape the future of autism research more than any other specific area of scientific investment.” 

Check out the video below to learn more about the MSSNG Project and how the collection of autism genomes could advance the search for a cure.
 

About the Author
English
I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
AUG 10, 2022
Health & Medicine
Blood Vessel Disease May Worsen Cognition in Alzheimer's Disease
AUG 10, 2022
Blood Vessel Disease May Worsen Cognition in Alzheimer's Disease
A new study from a group of Alzheimer’s disease researchers at Augusta University is highlighting the importance o ...
AUG 24, 2022
Health & Medicine
Vitamin D Supplements Could Alleviate Symptoms of Depression, Meta-Analysis Finds
AUG 24, 2022
Vitamin D Supplements Could Alleviate Symptoms of Depression, Meta-Analysis Finds
An extensive meta-analysis which was recently published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition presents evide ...
AUG 28, 2022
Neuroscience
Hot, Humid Weather Linked to Severe Mental Health Symptoms
AUG 28, 2022
Hot, Humid Weather Linked to Severe Mental Health Symptoms
Exposure to sunny, hot, and humid weather may trigger severe mental health symptoms that require emergency care. The cor ...
SEP 10, 2022
Health & Medicine
What You See Isn't What You Get - The Science of Perception
SEP 10, 2022
What You See Isn't What You Get - The Science of Perception
People are different, with different backgrounds, different experiences, and different lives. So, it may come as no surp ...
SEP 22, 2022
Neuroscience
Machine Learning Algorithm Offers Insights into a Dog's Neural Activity
SEP 22, 2022
Machine Learning Algorithm Offers Insights into a Dog's Neural Activity
Emory University researchers decoded images from a canine brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to re ...
OCT 03, 2022
Neuroscience
A Fungus That Shrinks to Infect the Brain
OCT 03, 2022
A Fungus That Shrinks to Infect the Brain
Researchers have discovered that a fungal pathogen called Cryptococcus neoformans transforms when it enters the body, an ...
Loading Comments...