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Working With Others

23andMe is building up its outside research collaborations to make greater use of the data it has collected, Wired reports.

The direct-to-consumer genetic testing company has amassed more than 4 million genetic profiles and phenotypic data from customers that have consented to take part in research, it adds. It further notes that company researchers can't keep up with all the data and so the firm is turning to researchers in academia and at research institutions to help sift through it all. But, Wired notes, 23andMe only accepts about 10 percent of the proposals it receives and that the likelihood of a proposal being accepted increases when it could help grow the company's business.

For instance, Wired says 23andMe wants build a more diverse population base and to do that it has developed a Populations Collaborations Program in which researchers are given funds and free genotyping and DNA analysis services if they collect samples from low-coverage populations. In return, it says, that data is then folded into the company's database. "One of the things the company says it's evaluating is how the people sampled will ultimately benefit from the research," it adds. "That's important to prevent the appearance that the program is merely a bioprospecting expedition to enrich 23andMe's data stores."