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23andMe, GSK Ink $20M Expanded Collaboration to Broaden Access to Genetic Database

NEW YORK – GSK and 23andMe said on Monday that they have signed a new data licensing agreement, extending a previous collaboration.

Under terms of the new license, 23andMe will receive a $20 million upfront payment to provide GSK with a one-year, nonexclusive data license that will also include access to certain services such as further analyses of 23andMe data not provided in the core data release.

Specifically, 23andMe will provide GSK with access to and analysis of de-identified, summary data from global genome- and phenome-wide data. GSK will own and advance any new drug-discovery programs that it chooses to initiate during the agreement, but 23andMe may be eligible for downstream royalties under certain uses of the database by GSK.

The deal opens a new chapter in the relationship between the two firms, which saw an exclusive, five-year drug discovery collaboration expire in July. In 2022, GSK exercised an option to pay $50 million to extend the deal for one more year.

"We've had an incredibly successful collaboration with GSK over the past five years, and we are excited to continue our work together," Anne Wojcicki, CEO and cofounder of 23andMe, said in a statement. "With approximately 50 programs developed over the last five years, we are thrilled to work with GSK in discovering genetically validated targets."

In August, 23andMe laid off 71 therapeutics-related employees, or about half of the staff of that business, as part of a reorganization following the expiration of the original GSK deal. That followed the cutting of about 75 jobs in April.

As part of their amended collaboration agreement, 23andMe is taking the royalty option on three programs previously initiated by the two companies, which GSK will independently advance, with 23andMe retaining certain rights to downstream royalties. 23andMe and GSK will both retain royalties on a number of active programs developed under the initial collaboration.

"The 23andMe research database is constantly growing, which increases its power for therapeutic research over time," Adam Auton, VP of human genetics at 23andMe, said in a statement. "We've also made significant strides to increase the power of our database by improving our imputation technology, utilizing whole-genome sequencing data to dramatically increase the number of genetic variants that we're able to interrogate."

In afternoon trading on the Nasdaq, shares of 23andMe were up 3 percent at $.79.