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Pfizer to work with genetics firm on bowel disease

Agrees deal with 23andMe to research ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
23andme genetic research

Pfizer is to collaborate with the personal genetics specialist 23andMe to research the genetic factors associated with bowel disease.

The companies have launched a study that aims to enrol 10,000 people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a group of conditions that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. It is estimated that 1.4 million people in the US living with a form of IBD.

The collaboration will explore the underlying genetic causes of IBD with the aim to develop new treatments that improve upon current options such as aminosalicylates and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and immunosuppressants to tackle the harmful effects of the immune system.

"By enhancing our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, we hope to better support our clinical research activities and development programmes,” said Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, senior VP biotherapeutics R&D, Pfizer.

Pfizer has existing interests and expertise in the area, including the autoimmune therapy Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate), which is currently approved for rheumatoid arthritis in certain regions and is being investigated in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Due to the nature of the study, all participants will need to consent to provide a DNA sample via saliva and agree to share their data with researchers.

As an interesting incentive, all participants will also receive 23andMe's Personal Genome Service at no cost. This service, which usually costs around $100, provides individuals with an ancestry analysis and uninterpreted raw genetic data.

The company also used to offer health-related data to the public as part of these reports but was banned from doing so by the FDA at the end of last year pending a review of the quality of its data.

Researching the genetic causes of diseases has become an important area of interest in healthcare in recent years, with new technology allowing cheaper and targeted genetic mapping. Ongoing projects in the area include the attempt by the UK's Department of Health to map the DNA of 100,000 people by 2017 in a collaboration between Genomics England and the biotech Illumina.

13th August 2014

From: Research, Healthcare

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