The commercial gene sequencing company 23andMe and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced a partnership that is planned for the next four years. GSK will use the massive repository of genetic and personal data that 23andMe has gathered over the years to improve the development of medications, and potentially, cures for diseases. Many disorders lack effective therapies, and the partnership wants to address that.
“Partnering with 23andMe, an organization whose vision and capabilities are transforming the understanding of how genes influence health, will help to shift our research and development organization to be ‘driven by genetics’, and increase the impact GSK can have on patients,” said Dr. Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer and President R&D, GSK.
“This collaboration will enable us to deliver on what many customers have been asking for — cures or treatments for diseases. By leveraging the genetic and phenotypic information provided by consenting 23andMe customers and combining it with GSK’s incredible expertise and resources in drug discovery, we believe we can more quickly make treating and curing diseases a reality,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-founder of 23andMe.
They aim to improve precision medicines that can be used on patients that carry specific sequences in a gene that has left them susceptible to an associated disease. They also want to find the best way to identify patients who could participate in drug trials. There won’t be any immediate reward for those participants, but the upside of course, is that effective therapeutics for serious illnesses might be engineered. A possible downside is that many people will contribute to potentially groundbreaking or profitable research that will be out of their reach.