Personal genetics company 23andMe announced that it has entered into a partnership with Pfizer to research genetic factors linked with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and its treatment. Together, the partners will enroll 10,000 people with IBD to gather genetic information that will help advance understanding of the disease’s onset, progression, severity and response to treatment.
IBD afflicts around 1.4 million people in the U.S. alone where it is one of the top five most common gastrointestinal disease burdens. There is no currently no cure for the chronic condition. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two most common inflammatory bowel diseases. Both diseases are characterized by an abnormal response of the body’s immune system to food, bacteria, and other substances in the intestines, which it mistakes for foreign bodies. The immune system is led to attack the cells of the intestines and causes chronic inflammation.
23andMe CEO and Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki, “We are excited to team up with Pfizer to take an innovative, consumer-centered approach to try to understand the fundamentals of inflammatory bowel disease and the variability of treatment response.”
The study is open to U.S. residents only. Participants who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will be given 23andMe’s genome service which will include ancestry analysis and uninterpreted raw genetic data. Data collected in the study will be used to guide Pfizer’s drug development efforts for the treatment of IBD.
The partners have engaged IBD experts to assist in the survey development, data analysis, and to maintain research objectivity. 23andMe has stated that participants’ individual data will be shared anonymously with Pfizer and future research partners to protect patients’ privacy.
Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, SVP of Biotherapeutics Research and Development at 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.”