California-based personal genetics company 23andMe recently partnered with Pfizer to enroll 10,000 patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in a research initiative that will explore how genetics and environment are associated with patients’ response to treatments for the disease, as well as how they relate to IBD risk and progression.
Researchers conducting the study plan to leverage the findings to further advance Pfizer’s drug development efforts for the disease, ultimately leading to potential new or improved treatments for IBD. By triangulating genetics, environment, and patient response, Pfizer can in turn create therapies that are more patient-focused, thus leading to improved outcomes.
Since geographic distance can be an impediment to research projects such as these, 23andMe is designing the study so that every patient can participate simply by filling out a 15-minute online survey, which includes information about their specific IBD symptoms and response to treatments, and by providing a saliva sample. Their participation is anonymous.
The California company will then provide patients with quarterly updates on its recruiting and study progress, as there may be additional opportunities to join the study as the researchers analyze the data.
After 23andMe’s partnership with Pfizer, patients’ information will be used in future IBD studies as well, so that researchers around the world can have access to this information and work on better treatments.
Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, senior vice president of the biotherapeutics research and development department at Pfizer, hopes that this partnership will help better support Pfizer’s clinical research activities and development programs. On 23andMe’s side, CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki says the team is excited to “take an innovative, consumer-centered approach to try to understand the fundamentals of inflammatory bowel disease and the variability of treatment response.”