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23andMe, Pfizer to Launch Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – 23andMe and Pfizer said today they will launch a joint research project to study genetic factors involved in the onset, progression, severity, and response to treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.

The companies plan to enroll 10,000 people with IBD in the study, all of whom will receive the 23andMe Personal Genome Service at no cost, including ancestry and raw genetic data. The consumer genomics firm will recruit individuals who have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and who are not current customers. These participants will agree to provide DNA samples, answer online surveys, and consent to share their data with researchers.

The partners aim to discover the underlying genetics involved in IBD, with the hope that this knowledge will lead to new or improved treatments.

23andMe's CEO and Co-founder Anne Wojcicki said in a statement that the partners will take a "consumer-centered approach to try to understand the fundamentals of inflammatory bowel disease and the variability of treatment response."

"By enhancing our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, we hope to better support our clinical research activities and development programs," added Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, Pfizer's senior VP of biotherapeutics research and development.

23andMe recently reeled in a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to refine its web-based survey infrastructure, and to improve its ability to uncover genetic associations and use whole-genome sequencing to find rare genetic variants.

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