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Autism Speaks Taps DNAstack to Update MSSNG Research Portal

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Autism Speaks has enlisted genomic analysis software company DNAstack to restructure the organization's massive MSSNG research portal, with the goal of simplifying access to genomic data on autism and ultimately accelerating research.

The MSSNG project, an ongoing effort between Autism Speaks, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and Google, is an open repository of whole-genome sequence, phenotype, and clinical information from more than 10,000 individuals and families with autism. The database and associated analytics tools are offered openly to researchers, clinicians, genetic counselors, and families affected by the condition.

Toronto-based DNAstack will add a data discovery portal and data-sharing features to the MSSNG platform, and will integrate it with bioinformatics workflows,, the partners announced today.

"[DNAstack's] technology will bring this resource to a new level by empowering researchers to more efficiently investigate genomic data," Dean Hartley, Autism Speaks senior director of discovery and translational science, said in a statement. He noted that that the partnership with DNAstack will lean on standards developed through the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

"We believe that sharing data is one of the most important things we can do to accelerate discovery and the realization of precision medicine, not just in autism but in other conditions as well," added DNAstack CEO Marc Fiume. "By sharing data on the cloud, MSSNG has set an important precedent in open science."

Autism Speaks said that researchers using MSSNG have identified 61 autism-related genetic variations, plus other chromosome alterations that affect risk for autism.

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