23andMe has had a somewhat rocky existence, first offering data on one’s own ancestry and genetic data, then stripping that down to only ancestry information coupled with raw data that coupld be parsed for medical reasons by third-party companies. That was due to meddling by the FDA. That was recently changed with genetic test kit approval (though conditions apply), and now the company has made a very big announcement: it is planning to use customer data to make pharmaceutical drugs.
23andMe has a large trove of genetic data from customers, and it will be using that information to create new medications for different disorders. As far as finances go, this will turn its genetic database into a large source of revenue, eclipsing what it has thus far made from its different initiatives.
Says the company’s founder, Anne Wojcicki:
People want to see a cure. And cures don’t magically appear. Cures come from pharma, and biotech. And so part of what I think we can do is by making sure that the consumer really is at the forefront, that they are informed, that they know what’s going on, I’m hoping that they can really do a meaningful service for them by helping to develop those types of therapies.
That’s the extent of the initiative so far — it’ll likely be a long while before we see the first medication made using 23andMe’s genetic information surface, and even longer before it becomes a commonly available option. Still, this gives the company a new focus while it waits for the FDA to further loosen its grips on genetic testing, and could possibly lead to new cures for diseases.