23andMe, a California-based personal genetics company, and Pfizer have inked a research agreement in which the companies aim to enroll 10,000 people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in a research initiative designed to explore the genetic factors associated with the onset, progression, severity and response to treatments for IBD.
Approximately 1.4 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from IBD, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While IBD is known to be more common in developed countries, the exact cause of this chronic illness is still unknown and there is no cure.
The collaboration represents an innovative effort for both companies designed to explore the underlying genetics of IBD and it is hoped that the effort will ultimately lead to potential new or improved treatments for IBD.
“We are excited to team up with Pfizer to take an innovative, consumer-centered approach to try to understand the fundamentals of IBD and the variability of treatment response,” said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO and co-founder.
Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, senior vice president, biotherapeutics R&D, Pfizer, said, “By enhancing our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, we hope to better support our clinical research activities and development programs.”
All study participants will receive 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service at no cost, including their ancestry analysis and uninterpreted raw genetic data. 23andMe will recruit individuals who are not current 23andMe customers and who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis by a qualified physician. Study participants will need to consent to provide a DNA sample (saliva), answer online surveys and agree to share their data with researchers. The study currently is open to U.S. residents only.