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Jul 29, 2020 by CenTrial

Testing how genes affect disease

GlaxoSmithKline and 23andMe are testing whether 23andMe's genetic database can be useful in developing drugs in their first collaborative clinical trial.

Their approach is to comb through the genetic data supplied by 12+ million 23andMe users, looking for clues as to how genes may contribute to different diseases, and how drugs could be developed to combat the effects.

“This is a new way of thinking about drug development,” said Hal Barron, GSK’s chief scientific officer and president of research and development.

The trial has enrolled their first patient and is hoping to create an antibody drug that targets tumors.  The hypothesis is that by blocking the protein CD96 the molecule CD155 will be stopped from creating malignant tumors.

This is one of nearly 30 programs targeting such conditions as oncology, immunology, neurology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Much testing needs to be done as altering a molecular pathway could have negative effects on health, and not all of the programs will reach the clinical trial stage.

“What has surprised me the most is how well this approach has worked, how productive it’s been,” said 23andMe Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki.

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