This month marks the two-year anniversary of 23andMe’s collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In July 2018 the two joined forces to focus on increasing the probability of success in drug development by prioritizing candidates validated by human genetics.
Studies show that treatments that have been validated with genetic data are at least twice as likely to succeed when compared to traditional approaches.
Ultimately, the goal of the collaboration is to drive the discovery of novel, genetically validated drug targets to bring new transformational medicines to patients. There are now close to 30 therapeutic targets that have been identified in oncology, immunology, neurology, cardiovascular and metabolic disease. The majority of these preclinical programs are in the target validation phase, and the remainder are in early drug discovery programs.
“Since our inception, 23andMe has strived to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome,” said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe co-founder, and CEO. “We launched our research program more than a decade ago with the idea that we could make a significant impact on drug discovery with a crowdsourced genetic community. The collaboration with GSK accelerates us making that a reality.”
In a significant milestone for the collaboration, GSK and 23andMe have advanced the first joint asset into the clinic, a potential first-in-class cancer treatment that was discovered by GSK and being co-developed by the two companies. GSK and 23andMe were working on similar programs independently prior to the collaboration; GSK’s was chosen to advance to the clinic. The axis was genetically validated by 23andMe using a proprietary algorithm that compares potential drug targets to a unique data set from the 23andMe research platform. This data set comprises detailed genetic information integrated with thousands of phenotypes (non-genetic information) to help uncover genetic patterns, enabling scientists from 23andMe and from GSK to identify potential therapeutic candidates.
The benefit of this exclusive collaboration goes well beyond the programs. The collaboration is bringing together great science, new technology, and outstanding people to steer research where the data shows we can have the most impact. 23andMe brings large-scale genetic resources, antibody and protein engineering, and substantial biology experience and with its 300-year history, GSK provides tremendous expertise and resources to turn new ideas into new medicines and vaccines.
Data studied as part of the collaboration — and for all 23andMe research — is contributed by customers who explicitly opt-in to a separate research consent. 23andMe scientists study the data in-house and share summary statistics, stripped of any personal information. Collaborating with GSK allows 23andMe to much more quickly deliver on what many customers have been asking for — better treatments for diseases where current therapies are inadequate today.
“We give our customers the opportunity to participate in novel research programs across a wide variety of areas,” said Anne. “When we talk with customers who are suffering from a disease, they are hoping our research community can impact their lives, or future lives, by understanding the genetic cause of a disease and possibly finding a treatment.”