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Google Invests in World's Largest DNA Sequencing Project

By Chris V. Thangham     Mar 1, 2008 in Health
Google is financing a Harvard scientist who wants to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people. This will be the world’s biggest gene sequencing project.
This project will begin in the U.S., U.K., China and Sweden this year and will focus on deciphering the genetic makeup of 1,000 people at a cost of $50 million.
With Google financing the project, it will no doubt help researchers study more people and get a good understanding of diseases and possible cures.
Google has previously invested in a genetics testing company called 23andme. The company provides the health history of a patient by analyzing the DNA. It is also working on a Google Health project with Cleveland Health Clinic where it will maintain a patient’s health history online so it can be shared easily with doctors and pharmacies. Google Health will be available soon for other hospitals and clinics and for every person so they can maintain an online database of their health records.
Harvard's George Church is planning to spend nearly $1 billion to connect DNA information to each person’s health history and create a database to find new medicines.
Stephen Elledge, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a telephone interview to Bloomberg:The genetic variations are what make people different, and we need to understand the connections to human disease. They'll get a tremendous amount of information from this,''
David Altshuler, a geneticist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts and leader of the project, said about a dozen full genomes have already been sequenced and more will be sequenced soon.
Church plans to match the genetic data from each person with his or her health history. Then he will build a database that will link DNA variations and diseases for scientists and drug makers so they can develop suitable treatment to block the mutations and combat these diseases.
Church said he will also explore other human traits such as facial, body measurements, sleep habits, etc.
He said he will keep expanding the project to include more people and analyze more genomes. He said the project will stop only when they stop learning.
With Google’s participation, they can get both the financial backing and maintain the huge data online. With the gathered data, they can use it to collaborate with various scientists and doctors to find suitable treatments.
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