23andMe reached another milestone earlier this month by completing enrollment in what is now one of the largest genetic studies of lupus in the world.
As part of the Lupus Research Study, 23andMe and its collaborator in this study, Pfizer, Inc., have enrolled 5,000 people with lupus. Using genetic and survey data gathered from participants, researchers hope to gain insight into the genetics of lupus, an autoimmune disease that impacts 1.5 million people in the United States alone. The hope is that those research insights will in turn lead to new and better ways of treating the condition, including the development of new drugs to treat the disease.
“We believe that by studying human genetics alongside environmental and health history factors it will ultimately help inform better treatment options for lupus patients, and make important discoveries,” said 23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki.
Currently those living with lupus face many challenges. The condition is both chronic but also hard to diagnose. It often impacts different parts of the body such as the skin, joints and various organs. But because the symptoms often vary depending on the individual, making a diagnosis can be difficult. Although its cause is unknown, research indicates that genetics, hormones and environmental factors all play a role. Currently there is no known cure for the disease.
Now that 23andMe’s Lupus Research Study has reached its enrollment goal, the scientific work can begin in earnest. Researchers are incorporating genotypic information from participants, as well as information about other traits and conditions participants may have, in addition to medical health records for the analysis of longitudinal surveys with participants.
For many participants in this study like, Mary Frances, a California mother who was first diagnosed with lupus in college, this is important work.
“23andMe is trying to understand on a genetic level what causes these diseases,” Mary Frances said.
You can learn more about 23andMe’s Lupus Research Study here.