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23andMe targets $150 million for drug development

pharmafile | July 8, 2015 | News story | Research and Development 23andME, DNA, DNA testing, genetics, venture capital 

The genetic testing firm 23andMe is seeking to raise $150 million in order to move into its own drug development venture.

The Silicon Valley company, which markets a £125 DNA test kit at pharmacies in the UK, has raised $79 million so far, according to regulatory papers it filed in July. The company has declined to disclose information on what specifically the money would be used for or who has invested.

Earlier on in the year, 23andMe said it would increase its services from screening people for diseases and genetic research collaborations with pharma companies, to conducting early-stage drug discovery, with the aim of finding new targets for medicines from its large database of consumers’ genetic and health information.

This major shift for the company will see it build a research and development arm from scratch alongside building a drug development team from the ground up.

23andMe, based in Mountain View, California, has already raised close to $126 million so far for its genetic testing and disease screening arms, with its investors including Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, Google Ventures and venture capitalists New Enterprise Associates.

Since its launch in 2006, 23andMe has genotyped one million people worldwide, about 80 % of whom consent to let the firm use their data use for research.

The company has started submitting tests to the FDA and has gained approval for its first screening kit, for a rare genetic disorder called Bloom syndrome. It has also launched a Lupus research study in collaboration with Pfizer.

Anne Wojcicki, founder and chief executive of 23andMe commented at an industry event, saying: “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about genetic information and what you can and cannot learn. One of the things we try to do is educate individuals that knowing information is empowering.”

Yasmita Kumar

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