The new platform gives researchers, who would recruit their own research participants, an end-to-end service that incorporates genetic information into their studies, provides a seamless way to collect phenotypic information and an easy way to track that information. Already, a number of institutions have signed up to utilize the service.
“GSR simplifies the genotyping process and allows any researcher with an IRB-approved study to incorporate genetics into their research, regardless of their own genetics expertise,” said Ruby Gadelrab, 23andMe’s vice president of commercial marketing. “Typically research studies don’t return any data to the participants. We’ve enabled researchers to give results back to participants in the form of the 23andMe experience, which we believe is a huge advantage in recruiting and the way research studies of the future will be conducted.”
23andMe GSR is for researchers recruiting participants for their own cohorts and looking to generate new genetic information. Researchers will be able to use 23andMe’s GSR platform to track and manage their projects, and download data in real-time as samples are genotyped through the new 23andMe Researcher Dashboard. When paired with 23andMe’s mobile API for ResearchKit, researchers will have the ability create apps to collect digital phenotypes on smartphones to study alongside genetic information.
The end-to-end service includes non-invasive sample collection, DNA extraction, genotyping (arrays, reagents and sample processing), data and project tracking for the researchers, and the ability to return 23andMe reports to participants. GSR also simplifies the recruiting process, offering non-invasive sample collection through a simple saliva kit, and the ability to recruit nationally by shipping the 23andMe kit directly to participants’ homes.
“The GSR platform will now allow us to collect genetic information directly from patients participating in medical research studies that use mobile technology. We’re hopeful this data can accelerate breakthrough discoveries for complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis.” Daniel Pelletier, MD, vice chair of research, Department of Neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Those who have signed on to pilot the GSR platform are conducting studies as varied as smoking cessation, cognitive impairment in glioma patients as well as addictions and psychiatric disorders. The list of current collaborators includes researchers at not just USC but also at McMaster University/St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the University of California, San Diego; and Washington University in St. Louis, among others.
“Partnering with 23andMe permits us to both accelerate the pace of our work and reduce infrastructure costs. Furthermore, it allows us to give back to our study participants who are interested in their genetic ancestry and health risks. It’s a real ‘win-win’ for us,” said James MacKillop, PhD, Director, Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, McMaster University/St.Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.