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About SickKids

October 27, 2015

MSSNG Project helps doctors share genomic data for autism research

Groundbreaking initiative profiled on PBS Newshour

Learn more about MSSNG in a recent segment on PBS NewsHour which profiles how the project’s findings are already impacting the lives of families affected by autism.

Thanks to an ambitious and groundbreaking collaboration between The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Autism Speaks and Google, scientists around the globe now have open access to thousands of genomes for autism research.

The online portal, called MSSNG, aims to sequence the genomes of 10,000 individuals from families with autism, and store all the data in an open-source research platform – Google Cloud Platform – so it is accessible to researchers around the world. This is the first time that research data is being made broadly available in a cloud-based platform for scientists to study and share information that will hopefully lead to the identification of genetic variants that cause autism.

“MSSNG is the largest open science genome sequencing project in the world and we have designed it to try to answer the questions that families affected by autism bring to us on a regular basis. The hope is that this data will give scientists the means they need to find better ways of diagnosing and treating the condition,” says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Director of the Autism Speaks MSSNG Project, and The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) at SickKids. “This project has been a massive undertaking that would not have been possible without close collaboration with Autism Speaks and Google. Our team is sharing all of our experiences with others who are starting similar initiatives in other medical conditions.”

Currently there are already 76 registered institutions from around the world using the MSSNG portal and the goal is to have all 10,000 genomes sequenced by the beginning of 2016.

Read some of the early results coming from the MSSNG Project in Nature Medicine.

This paper is an example of how SickKids, is contributing to making Ontario Healthier, Wealthier and Smarter www.healthierwealthiersmarter.ca.