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article image23andMe to begin drug development

By Tim Sandle     Mar 21, 2015 in Business
Mountain View - 23andMe, the personal genomics firm, has announced plans to make its own medicines. This will involve deals with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
23andMe, which is based in Mountain View, California, is set to take advantage of its vast resource of genetic data and will begin to develop drugs. At present, the company contributes health and lifestyle information volunteered by its consumers to researchers and has recently partnered with large pharmaceutical companies. It is estimated that 680,000 of 23andMe’s customers have agreed to let the company use their information for research.
Explaining the implications of the decision, CEO Anne Wojcicki told Bloomberg Business: "Part of what we’re trying to do here is drug discovery in a more efficient model. Pharma companies don’t have a direct relationship with consumers, so they’re always subjects. By engaging them and giving it to them as a prize, saying, ‘You’ve powered this study and you’ve made this happen,’ we can do things in a different way."
As part of the move into drug development, 23andMe have hired drug development expert Richard Scheller.
Digital Journal has covered the activities of the genomics firm previously. In January 2015, we reported that 23andMe and the biotech company Genentech are to work together on research into Parkinson’s Disease. The firms have entered a multi-year deal for the analysis of whole-genome sequence data.
Back in 2013, we reported that the company been awarded a patent which will allow couples to predict the ideal characteristics that they want to have in their baby. However, a u-turn was later announced amidst pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who were concerned about health and ethical issues. Despite this setback, 23andMe has maintained a lead role in the field of commercialized genetics.
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