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Whole genome sequences to be shared in 'big data' Alzheimer's project


By Rachel Landen
Posted: July 12, 2013 - 1:15 pm ET
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Genome sequencing data to be used in Alzheimer's research will soon be made available to scientists worldwide, courtesy of the disease's first “big data” project undertaken by the Alzheimer's Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

Whole genome sequences of more than 800 people—approximately 200 terabytes of data—were acquired through the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, led by the National Institutes of Health. Participants in ADNI are people with Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment and normal cognition who are studied in detail over time in order for researchers to identify and understand markers of the disease that could be helpful for both diagnosis and treatment.

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“This is unprecedented and of the utmost importance in brain research, where sometimes thousands of examples are required to observe even the smallest change in the brain,” Dr. Giovanni Frisoni, deputy scientific director at the National Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Care, said in a release.

The data uncovered through the project will be stored in the Global Alzheimer's Association Interactive Network, which is initially being funded through a $5 million investment from the Alzheimer's Association. Scientists around the globe will be able to connect to the database for free sharing, searching, downloading and processing across a cloud-based system.

"The Alzheimer's Association is committed to creating open access to research data, and we believe GAAIN will transform how neuroscience data is shared and accessed by scientists throughout the world," Maria Carrillo, VP of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association, said in the release. "By fostering a higher level of global data sharing, GAAIN will accelerate investigation and discovery in Alzheimer's through a system comparable to a search engine like Google or Bing for relevant data."

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden


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