GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British drug giant, will be investing $300 million in 23andMe – a genetics company for a four year collaboration to use human genetics as a guide to discover medicines. GSK has established its partnership with 23andMe as an exclusive collaboration for target genetic drug research. The proceeds and funding will be split equally between both the companies. The partnership also comes with an option for extension of a year more.
The new research strategy of GSK is under Hall Barron, New Chief Scientific Officer in a drug industry veteran. This new approach will focus on genetics, immune, and technology and advanced analytics.
This is not the first time for a pharmaceutical company to turn to genetics for improving their drug development. Amgen also acquired Iceland’s deCODE genetics during 2012 for US$415 million to utilize its genetic database and Regeneron partnered with the UK Biobank and Geisinger Health to benefit the same.
23andMe has a different partnership. It has a direct to consumer genetics testing company. It will charge US$199 ancestry and health data. Out of 5 million customers of the company, 80 percent has giving consent for participating in the research.
23andMe does not have traditional health record system like Geisinger has but it conducts surveys from its users, amongst which, one person’s database contributes to almost 200 various research studies. The company has been focusing on development of drugs on its own since 2015, hiring Richard Scheller, Genentech veteran as its head of therapeutics and chief scientific officer.
The aim of this Genetic Drug Research partnership is to improve the drug target selection and discovering medicines that are more efficient and less likely to carry risk. This collaboration will also benefit in speeding identification and recruitment of patients for the clinical trials.