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GSK forges $300m partnership with 23andMe to boost preclinical R&D

Published on 26/07/18 at 11:35am

In a bid to supercharge its drug discovery efforts, GlaxoSmithKline has sealed a $300 million deal with personal genomics and biotechnology firm 23andMe to leverage the genotypic and phenotypic data gathered by the latter’s genetic testing kits – currently the largest such resource in the world – to direct the British pharma giant’s preclinical development projects.

As part of the deal, GSK has also made a $300 million equity investment in 23andMe. The project will be equally co-funded and will utilise the data of the around 80% of 23andMe’s five million customers that consent to share it in order to better hone its R&D efforts, from selection of clinical targets to participant recruitment.

The collaboration has been set to last four years, with an option to extend it for a fifth year.

In order to promptly kick off the collaboration, both partners will be bringing their existing projects to the table, including 23andMe’s early stage programmes and GSK’s LRRK2 inhibitor which is currently being trialled in Parkinson’s disease; in this effort, the partnership hopes to use the LRRK2 status of 23andMe’s users to more effectively target and recruit patients with such mutations to accelerate proof-of-concept development in this area.

“We are excited about this unique collaboration as we know that drug targets with genetic validation have a significantly higher chance of ultimately demonstrating benefit for patients and becoming medicines,” commented Dr Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer and President R&D at GSK. “Partnering with 23andMe, an organisation whose vision and capabilities are transforming the understanding of how genes influence health, will help to shift our research and development organisation to be ‘driven by genetics’, and increase the impact GSK can have on patients.”

Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-Founder of 23andMe, also remarked; “This collaboration will enable us to deliver on what many customers have been asking for – cures or treatments for diseases. By leveraging the genetic and phenotypic information provided by consenting 23andMe customers and combining it with GSK’s incredible expertise and resources in drug discovery, we believe we can more quickly make treating and curing diseases a reality.”

Matt Fellows

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