Technology

Google Now Offering Storage Cloud For Genomic Data

With the genome becoming a focus for research on new medical treatments, Google is offering to store data at $25 per genome a year.

The idea behind Google Genomics is to allow scientists to easily process data, as well as upload and view data with other researchers around the world in a collective effort to find the next medical discovery. Technological advances allow for projects and institutes to decode DNA at a faster-than-ever pace, but the next question is where the data can be shared.

That’s become an issue now because any genomic collection can hold a gargantuan amount of data that is difficult to share with others personally, such as the Cancer Genome Atlas’ 2.6 petabytes (about 2,600 terabytes) of genomic data from thousands of patients.

Sheila Reynolds, a research scientist at the Institute for Systems Biology, said these storage clouds can help run online experiments as easy as it is to run an online search.

Deniz Kural, CEO of Seven Bridges Genomics, says it is inevitable that doctors will soon turn to the Internet for DNA across the world to help assess how to treat a patient.

“Our bird’s eye view is that if I were to get lung cancer in the future, doctors are going to sequence my genome and my tumor’s genome, and then query them against a database of 50 million other genomes,” Kural said in an interview with MIT Technology Review. “The result will be ‘Hey, here’s the drug that will work best for you.’ ”

In addition to the new level of accessibility offered to scientists, the price of storing data may drop as well. Somalee Datta, a physicist from Stanford University, says the cost to put data into a commercial cloud like Google is very close to current data center costs and expects the commercial cloud prices to decrease.

“Prices are finally becoming reasonable, and we think they will keep dropping,” Datta said to MIT Technology Review.

Other companies breaking into the genomic data storage business include Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.