Home DNA test results from the 5 million customers of 23andMe will now be used by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline to design new drugs, the two companies announced Wednesday.
It’s the biggest partnership yet aimed at leveraging the increasingly popular home genetic testing market, in which customers pay for mail-in saliva tests that are analyzed by various companies. 23andMe dominates the market.
“By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki wrote in a blog post.
23andMe patrons are asked if they want to participate in scientific research. The new agreement moves this consent firmly into the field of active drug discovery research.
"As always, if our customers do not want to participate in research, they can choose to opt out at any time,” Wojcicki wrote.
She emailed 23andMe customers after the announcement, including a quick link to opt out of the research.
Glaxo has invested $300 million in 23andMe and the companies have a four-year deal that gives Glaxo exclusive rights to collaborate with the DNA testing company to develop drugs.