23andMe just gets deeper into drug development. First, there was a $300 million GSK deal TrialSite News discussed, and now the genetic testing company has licensed the rights to a drug it developed in-house to Almirall, which will progress the drug in clinical trials.
Info Picked up in Regulatory Finding
Bloomberg’s Kristen Brown recently reported picked up on the deal based on a comment in an obscure Spanish regulatory filing concerning Almirall.
A reminder that 23andMe already inked a deal with the UK giant GlaxoSmithKline where they have exclusive rights to use 23andMe data for drug development purposes—the deal included a $300 million stake in the company—a lot of cash.
More on the Almirall Deal
Apparently, 23andMe identified a drug candidate based on its data and thereafter commissioned animal studies prior to any business development activities. The results were positive and hence 23andMe and Almirall end up in a licensing agreement allowing the Spanish biotech to move the product into clinical trials. Business development head Emily Drabant told Bloomberg, “We’ve now gone from database to discovery to developing a drug.”
Apparently, Almirall licensed a molecule that blocks signals from small proteins involved in autoimmune diseases. 23andMe was targeting the compound for the treatment of the autoimmune disease psoriasis. The Spanish venture can develop and commercialize the antibody for worldwide use.
A Genetic Gold Mine
23andMe maintains a vault of gold in the form of the genetic and health data repository, thanks to the millions of patients that take DNA tests. Drug researchers can now investigate relationships between specific genes and health outcomes and consider therapeutic targets.
After all, 23andMe now has genetic data of approximately 10 million people—for which 80% of them or 8 million have offered their consent to allow their anonymized data be tapped into and leveraged for research. When consumers sign up, they sign a waiver allowing their data to be used for clinical research. A side note—we wonder how many consumers really understand the implication of this? They will receive no financial benefit—even if their contribution leads to a billion dollar blockbuster drug.
On the other hand, what most of us want is progress—those that raise the capital, marshal difficult to find and retain human capital (resources) and invest in infrastructure and put all to use under tremendous risk—are the ones that benefit financially.
And 23andMe has no trouble with risk. They are actively pursuing other drug targets and will more than likely become a clinical trials sponsor itself.