At 23andMe, we are committed to advancing understanding of human health and disease, and to giving everyone an opportunity to participate in scientific research that is meaningful for them. We launched our first research community focused on Parkinson’s disease in 2009 with those goals in mind. Less than two years later, we’ve already made amazing progress, having enrolled nearly 5,000 people with Parkinson’s (including one of the world’s largest databases of rare LRRK2 carriers) and gathered 40,000 data points about their experiences with the disease. With this initial data set, we’ve not only replicated existing genetic associations with Parkinson’s, but have also discovered two novel genetic markers associated with the condition which may further our understanding of the causes and point to potential avenues for treatment.
One of the most encouraging aspects of this community-based effort is the speed with which we’ve been able to grow the community and make these discoveries. Traditional disease cohort recruitment and data collection is time-consuming, and sometimes decades can pass after the first study participant is enrolled until findings are published. Our unique web-based research platform significantly accelerates this timeline, and we have already submitted a manuscript for peer review describing our first findings.