In a move that will surprise no privacy-oriented individual, a new report shows that the 23andMe DNA results will be used by GlaxoSmithKline for new drug research.
The pharma giant invested $300 million in the gene-testing company that provides DNA swab kits to regular people in order to offer them reports containing details about their ancestry. 23andMe so far has more than 5 million customers. This means 5 million DNA swabs that will be used to “gather insights and discover novel drug targets driving disease progression and develop therapies for serious unmet medical needs based on those discoveries,” as part of a four-year deal in which GlaxoSmithKline invested $300 million in 23andMe.
“23andMe has created a research platform to enable customers to actively participate in research — to not wait for solutions to appear, but for people to come together and make discoveries happen. By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” explained Anne Wojcicki in the announcement.
However, most people who ordered a 23andMe kit signed up to find more about their ancestry, not to participate in medical research, so some of them are bound to take offense at this news.
In any case, both companies are extremely excited about the partnership. In a mail sent to CNET, the chief scientific officer at GSK, Dr. Hal Barron, said that “partnering with 23andMe will help to shift our research and development organization to be ‘driven by genetics,’ and increase the impact GSK can have on patients.”
Indeed, 23andMe could provide good resources, since the company has FDA approval to sell tests that detect the risk of cancer.