Over the past 10 years, no disease has become so familiar to Americans, yet remained so mysterious, as autism. Now affecting 1 in every 68 children born in the United States-up from 1 in 166 a decade ago—the condition has so far resisted nearly all efforts to cure it, curb it or even precisely define it.

But an unusual partnership between science, business and philanthropy may soon provide some answers. Autism Speaks, Google and geneticist Stephen Scherer have devised an ambitious plan to upload the complete genomes of 10,000 autistic patients and their families to a cloud database that will be searchable, sortable and shareable with researchers around the world.

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