23andMe made an agreement with Genentech in January of 2015. The goal is to generate the whole genome sequencing data for approximately 3,000 people in 23andMe’s Parkinson’s disease community. The hope is that this collaboration will identify new therapeutic targets for treating Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. One of the first symptoms is trembling or shaking of a limb while the body is at rest. It often begins on one side of the body and usually in one hand. These tremors can also affect arms, legs, feet, and face.
Over time, Parkinson’s disease can include rigidity or stiffness in the limbs or in the torso, slowed movement, inability to move, impaired balance and impaired coordination. The symptoms will slowly worsen over time. Parkinson’s disease can also affect cognition and emotions. Some who have it will develop depression, visual hallucinations, and/or dementia.
The majority of cases of Parkinson’s disease are a result of both genetic and environmental factors. About 15% of people who have Parkinson’s disease have a family history of it. This is one of the disease that can be passed down genetically from one generation to the next.
More specifically, it involves mutations in the following genes: LRRK2, PARK2, PARK7, PINK1, or SNCA. In addition, there are two other genes that can have alterations in them that a person can have without developing Parkinson’s disease. Those genes include GBA and UCHL1. Those two genes are said to modify the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in some families.
The collaboration between 23andMe and Genentech is expected to be a multi-year collaboration. 23andMe has gathered the genetic data from about 3,000 consumers who provided a saliva sample when they used 23andMe’s DNA testing kit. This group is in 23andMe’s Parkinson’s community.
Genentech has been in the process of researching the genetics associated with Parkinson’s disease in the hopes of developing drugs for the condition. Genentech was in the early stages of investigating an LRRK2 inhibitor at the time that they began collaborating with 23andMe.
Reuters reported that an agreement has been made between 23andMe and Genentech about what happens after the multi-year deal ends. 23andMe will be allowed to conduct additional research on the data and can make it available to other Parkinson’s researchers. The data will be made anonymous (or de-identified) before it is passed on to researchers. All the data comes from individuals who gave explicit permission to 23andMe to use it.
Image by Justin Grimes on Flickr.
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