- 23andMe on Wednesday announced a partnership with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline to develop new treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s disease, in which GSK is providing $US300 million in funding to 23andMe.
- 23andMe’s CEO Anne Wojicki sent an email to users on Wednesday announcing the partnership and explaining why the consumer genetics company is working with GSK.
GlaxoSmithKline just made a $US300 million bet in 23andMe’s ability to find new treatments for patients.
On Wednesday, GSK entered into a planned four-year drug-development collaboration with 23andMe, and committed $US300 million in funding to the company.
23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki wrote to users Wendesday afternoon explaining why it was partnering with GSK to develop its drugs.
“I hear regularly from customers, like you, that they want to be part of a solution that is improving health care,” Wojcicki wrote in an email. “We all have some disease or health issue that we care about. 23andMe has created a research platform to enable interested customers to participate in research – to not wait for solutions to appear, but for people to come together and make discoveries happen. By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs.”
The idea is to use the genetic information 23andMe has gathered from users who consent to share their information and use that to build therapies. The people who opt in to sharing their data – that’s about 80% of 23andMe’s millions of users – are asked to answer survey questions about their health and habits. Those answers then feed research into links between genetics and certain conditions. If certain genes stand out, they could become targets that 23andMe goes after with a drug. Ideally, that drug could then be studied in clinical trials, possibly on people who participated in the initial research who have that condition.
This isn’t 23andMe’s first foray into drug development. Already, 23andMe has partnered with major pharmaceutical companies like Lundbeck and Pfizer,which hope to use the company’s data to develop their own drugs. And in 2015, 23andMe started getting into drug development on its own, hiring a former Genentech executive, Richard Scheller, to lead the team.
Here’s the full email, [which I received because I’ve taken 23andMe’s test]
Since the inception of 23andMe, our mission has been to help people access, understand and benefit from the human genome. We have spent the last decade focused on enabling people to get access to their genome and understand what it means. We have also built a significant research team that has published over 100 scientific papers. In 2015, we launched 23andMe Therapeutics to develop novel treatments and cures based on genetic insights from the consented 23andMe community. Today, I am thrilled to announce that we are launching a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to accelerate our ability to make those novel treatments and cures a reality. I hear regularly from customers, like you, that they want to be part of a solution that is improving health care. We all have some disease or health issue that we care about. 23andMe has created a research platform to enable interested customers to participate in research – to not wait for solutions to appear, but for people to come together and make discoveries happen. By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs. Our genetic research – powered by millions of customers who have agreed to contribute – combined with GSK’s expertise in drug discovery and development, gives us the best chance for success. Our top priority is you, the customer, and empowering you with the options to participate in research. As always, you choose whether or not to participate in research. You can choose to opt-in or opt-out at any time. I started 23andMe with the belief that by getting people interested in learning about themselves and participating in research, we would all benefit. Today is an important milestone in how 23andMe will be able to impact the lives of those with disease and how we will be able to improve the future of healthcare. Anne
- DNA testing company 23andMe has signed a $US300 million deal with a drug giant – here’s how to delete your data if that freaks you out
- Lawmakers are asking DNA-testing companies about their privacy policies – here’s what you should know when taking genetics tests like 23andMe or AncestryDNA
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