San Francisco based biotech giant Genentech and genetics-testing startup 23andMe have joined hands and will now work together to help find new treatments for those affected by the Parkinson’s disease. The deal which was announced on Tuesday proposes to tap whole genome sequencing data for about 3,000 people in 23andMe’s database and then use this data to look for new therapeutic targets which could treat the disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder which impairs the nervous system affects nearly 1 million people in the United States every year.
This is the first deal of the year for the promising startup with a major pharmaceutical company- a great way to usher in the new year! This is not the first time that 23andMe and Genentech will work together. The latter was one of the earliest investors in 23andMe. The two have already worked together to collect data from metastatic breast cancer patients who took Genentech’s blockbuster drug Avastin and were part of a subset of so-called super-responders.
“We are incredibly excited to work with Genentech again, and for the potential to make true breakthroughs in therapeutic research and treatment for Parkinson’s disease,” said 23andMe President Andy Page.
Though none of the two companies involved have divulged any financial details of the transaction to the press, it is being said that Genentech will pay a $10 million upfront in the multi-year collaboration between the two Bay Area companies and up to $50 million in milestone payments.
“I am thrilled about this partnership and believe this can help accelerate meaningful discoveries for Parkinson’s patients,” Anne Wojcicki from 23andMe said in a press release.
Set up in 2006, 23andMe is backed by Google. The biotech powerhouse has shown great interest in all research related to the Parkinson’s disease, partly because the Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s mother is suffering from it. Brin too was identified as having a genetic mutation that increases his risk of getting affected by it. Along with his estranged wife, the 23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki, he has donated more than $150 million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Inspite of huge advancements in medical science, researchers have not been able to find a cure for the disease or come up with treatments which could slow it down. All they can do is slow down some of the symptoms associated with it with the help of medications.