23andMe makes drug using customers’ data

Reportedly for the first time.

An experimental drug has been developed using a customers’ genetic information. It is an antibody that blocks three proteins associated with some inflammatory diseases.

23andMe has sold in excess of 10 million DNA testing kits. 80% of people who use 23andMe’s DNA-testing kits agree to share their data with the company for research purposes, without compensation.

23andMe’ reports that they have already sold the rights to the newly designed antibody to Almiral, a Spanish pharmaceutical company. The drug is likely to be the first of many the company licenses, says Tim Frayling, a molecular geneticist at the University of Exeter, UK. As 23andMe’s genetic database grows – it has doubled in the last couple of years – it will become more likely to yield medically useful information, he says.

“This is a seminal moment for 23andMe,” Emily Drabant Conley, 23AndMe’s vice-president of business development told Bloomberg. “We’ve now gone from database to discovery to developing a drug.”

“If [23andMe] turned it around and instead paid people $99, I strongly suspect they’d still be very profitable,”