June 27, 2011

Direct to Consumer Recruitment for Alzheimer's Genetic Study

On the heels of the report from 23andMe, the California-based personalized medicine company, that it successfully identified new genetic markers relevant to Parkinson's disease using its direct to consumer (DTC) genetic testing model, the company has teamed up with Genentech to launch a similar efforts for Alzheimer's patients.  Here, the effort is aimed at identifying protective genetic mechanisms that could block or delay Alzheimer's onset.  The call for participants asks for those 75 years and older who do not suffer any cognitive impairment.  A 23andMe consent form details the collection of both self-reported and genetic data from a participant, the stripping of personal identifying information, the use of the anonymized data for comparison between affected and non-affected individuals to tease out relevant genetic differences.  Genentech is one of the earliest biotechnology companies, founded in 1976 and has also become an investor in 23andMe.  So this effort is notable for the collaboration between a "legacy" biotech company like Genentech (largely focused on biotech drugs) and the new wave of biotech companies that capture the use of voluminous genomic information to offer personalized testing services. 

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