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Google Launches Cloud-Based Human Genome Storage Facility

The research and development teams at Google are known for pushing the boundaries of modern computing power, and one of their latest announcements underlines their drive to provide 21st century solutions for today's enterprises. Google Genomics, a recently unveiled API mean to facilitate the processing, storage, archival and searching of genomic data in an all-encompassing, intuitive and user-friendly manner.

Utilizing cloud-based storage, Google plans on storing entire copies of genome data online. With estimates ranging at 100 gigabytes for the storage of a single human genome sequence, this is no small task. However, since the overall dataflow is significantly less than one is handled by large-scale Internet providers, Google should be able to keep a handle on all of that data. In fact, The National Cancer Institute has already spoken for a data migration consisting of 2.6 petabytes from the Cancer Genome Atlas into Google's cloud servers. The migration will cost The National Cancer Institute approximately $19 million.

Google's recent announcement came with news detailed Google's partnership with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, a global initiative aimed at providing a standardized protocol for the processing, storage and securing of genomic data. The program extends to cover standards and regulations regarding miscellaneous clinical data, as well.

Also unveiled during the announcement is a recent investment by Google Ventures, which earmarked funds for the genetic testing agency known as 23andMe. This bolsters earlier efforts by Google to penetrate the healthcare sector, when they started an enterprise known as Calico to aide in IT development for fighting disease.

Jonathan Bingham, one of Google's top product managers, spoke excitedly about the new opportunity. He stated: "With these first steps, it is our goal to support the global research community in bringing the vision of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health to fruition. Imagine the impact if researchers everywhere had larger sample sizes to distinguish between people who become sick and those who remain healthy, between patients who respond to treatment and those whose condition worsens, between pathogens that cause outbreaks and those that are harmless. Imagine if they could test biological hypotheses in seconds instead of days, without owning a supercomputer." He wrapped up his statement by saying: "Together with the members of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, we believe we are at the beginning of a transformation in medicine and basic research, driven by advances in genome sequencing and huge-scale computing."

Apart from Google, the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health boasts numerous partners. Some of the most reputable enterprises involved with the global campaign include Merck & Co., the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, DNAnexus and more.

While Google has made it known that they are not actively seeking out new partnership opportunities at this time, they have made their Google Genomics API available for those who are interested in performing initial research on the application. Individuals who are interested in storing their own genome data can do so for a fee of approximately $25 per year, though additional genome computations will cost extra.

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