GSK, 23andMe to Partner on Genetic Drug Development

August 1, 2018

GlaxoSmithKline and 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company, will partner to research and develop new drugs using human genetics.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company, announced an exclusive collaboration to research and develop new drugs using human genetics in a July 25, 2018 press release.

Under the terms of the deal, GSK has made a $300-million equity investment in 23andMe, and the companies have entered into a four-year collaboration with the option to extend for a fifth year, under which GSK will become 23andMe’s exclusive collaborator for drug target discovery programs. During this time, the companies will use 23andMe's database and proprietary statistical analytics to fuel drug target discovery, with the goal of jointly discovering new targets that can be developed. A joint GSK–23andMe drug discovery team will combine resources to identify new targets and prioritize based on strength of the biological hypothesis, possibility to find a medicine, and clinical opportunity.

The deal also enables both companies to bring existing early stage programs within the collaboration. 23andMe currently has a portfolio of early stage therapeutic research programs across a range of disease indications, which will be assessed for inclusion. GSK will contribute its LRRK2 inhibitor, which is currently in preclinical development as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. This program is expected to significantly advance by leveraging 23andMe’s base of consented customers who are aware of their LRRK2 variant status as a result of 23andMe’s FDA-authorized genetic health reports. Together, GSK and 23andMe are expected to more effectively target and rapidly recruit patients with defined LRRK2 mutations in order to reach clinical proof of concept, as stated by GSK.

All activities within the collaboration will initially be equally co-funded, with either company having certain rights to reduce its funding share for any collaboration program. It is expected This collaboration is expected to jointly advance a number of targets per year, with either company able to independently advance additional targets identified within the collaboration. 

GSK will also have the right to work with 23andMe to analyze 23andMe’s database for validation of GSK’s existing therapeutic portfolio as well as leverage 23andMe’s capabilities for clinical trial recruitment. Both GSK and 23andMe will share in the profits from new treatments and medicines arising from the collaboration. 

23andMe currently provides personal genetic profiling to five million users. 23andMe users can also choose to participate in research and contribute their information to the company’s database, a genetic and phenotypic resource.

GSK will use its expertise in drug discovery and development and will apply its technologies, including access to additional data sources, in-house target validation, genetics expertise, manufacturing, commercial operations, and scale, to support partner activities across R&D.

“We are excited about this unique collaboration as we know that drug targets with genetic validation have a significantly higher chance of ultimately demonstrating benefit for patients and becoming medicines,” said Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D, GSK, in a company press release. “Partnering with 23andMe, an organization whose vision and capabilities are transforming the understanding of how genes influence health, will help to shift our research and development organization to be ‘driven by genetics’, and increase the impact GSK can have on patients.”

Source: GlaxoSmithKline