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23andMe and GlaxoSmithKline Team Up to Target Cancer

Notable Non-COVID Clinical Trials

It’s no secret that researchers around the world are racing against time to create and distribute a coronavirus vaccine. Scientists are in the process of developing more than 165 potential vaccines against COVID-19, and 27 are now in human trials. Recently, progress from companies like Moderna (MRNA), Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX), and AstraZeneca (AZN) and the University of Oxford have stolen the spotlight with positive pushes forward—and for good reason. Markets have been highly reactive to upbeat coronavirus treatment and vaccine news. While these developments will likely continue to grab headlines, there are also other notable scientific experiments unfolding.

For example, genetic testing company 23andMe Inc. and UK-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plcr are working together to develop new drugs by incorporating information from 23andMe’s DNA data.

The two companies recently launched their first clinical trial for a drug that treats tumors. The drug is an antibody that blocks CD96, a protein which regulates immune responses. Scientists believe blocking CD96 will control CD155, another molecule that sometimes shows up in malignant tumors.

Other Projects

In 2018, GSK invested $300 million in 23andMe as part of a four-year partnership to do drug research using 23andMe’s library of data. Funding and proceeds for projects are split equally between the companies.

The two companies are currently at work on about 30 drug development projects together. These include drugs to treat oncology, immunology, neurology, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases.

The Benefits of Using Genetic Data to Research Drugs

23andMe has access to genetic data and health information volunteered by more than 12 million people. It collects spit from customers, extracts DNA from the sample, then analyses it on a chip that recognizes about 600,000 positions where there are differences in people’s DNA.

This data can provide scientists with valuable clues about how genetics and diseases are linked as they develop drugs. Access to genetic information also allows drug developers to quickly and accurately recruit people who will be most helpful for clinical trials. Investors and healthcare leaders are excited about the start of this clinical trial and the potential of
23andMe and GSK’s collaborations in the future.

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