GlaxoSmithKline is taking a deeper dive into genetics, with a large investment in Mountain View, California-based genetic profiling company 23andMe and a new approach to research and development.
The London-based pharmaceutical giant, which has operations in Research Triangle Park, entered into a 4-year, $300 million collaboration with 23andMe that will focus on new medicines and potential cures for diseases – using human genetics as the basis for discovery.
The $300 million represents an equity investment GSK is making in 23andMe.
23andMe is a consumer genetics and research company that provides DNA data to individuals interested in learning more about their personal genetic profile. The company has attracted more than 5 million customers since it was founded in 2006. Data can only be shared for scientific research with customers’ consent.
The collaboration, the companies said, will combine 23andMe’s “large-scale genetic resources and advanced data science skills,” with GSK scientific and medical knowledge and commercialization expertise.
“This collaboration will enable us to deliver on what many customers have been asking for — cures or treatments for diseases,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co–founder of 23andMe. “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.”
The goal of the collaboration, according to the companies, is to gather insights and discover novel drug targets tied to disease progression, and to develop therapies for serious unmet medical needs based on their discoveries.
“We know that drug targets with genetic validation have a significantly higher chance of ultimately demonstrating benefit for patients and becoming medicines,” said Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and the new president of R&D at GSK. “Partnering with 23andMe, an organization whose vision and capabilities are transforming the understanding of how genes influence health, will help to shift our research and development organization to be ‘driven by genetics’, and increase the impact GSK can have on patients.”