23andMe to receive US$60m in funding to sequence Parkinson’s genomes

7 Jan 2015

Home gene-testing kit producer 23andMe is looking to expand its business model to the pharmaceutical industry after signing a deal worth US$60m to analyse 3,000 Parkinson’s disease genomes.

23andMe, which has backing from a number of serious investors, including Facebook’s Yuri Milner, is now expanding to large pharmaceuticals by striking a deal with the company Genentech.

According to Forbes, the deal will see Genentech invest US$10m initially in 23andMe with a further US$50m if it is to reach its set milestones as it analyses the genes of the estimated 800,000 people who have purchased home-testing kits, giving an enormous amount of data to use for research into Parkinson’s disease.

However, because the 23andMe test only goes so far into a person’s genomes, Genentech will be looking to complete a full sequence to get the best overall picture for 3,000 participants.

Speaking of this new deal, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe’s chief executive and co-founder, said, “I think that this illustrates how pharma companies are interested in the fact that we have a massive amount of information. We have a very engaged consumer population, and these people want to participate in research. And we can do things much faster and more efficiently than any other research means in the world.”

Genetic testing image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic