23andMe Licenses Its Own Drug
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Known for its ancestry DNA tests, the Silicon Valley firm 23andMe Inc. has licensed an antibody developed by them, to a Spanish drugmaker, Almirall, for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

This is the first time 23andMe is licensing its own drug component and this deal was announced by Almairall in a filing with Spanish regulators.

The vice president of business development, Emily Drabant Conley said, “For 23andMe, this moment is a very influencing moment. From database to drug discovery, we have now gone to developing a drug.”

Developing drugs by leveraging its genetic data has become 23andMe’s business’ important part. Its DNA tests have been taken by more than 10 million people and the data from this can help in finding new drug targets for disease treatment.

The company had previously made a deal in 2018 with a U.K. drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, to share its data and collaborate on drug development which took a $300 million stake in the company. Now, this is the first time a compound it developed in-house has been licensed by the company itself.

The compound belongs to the class, known as a bispecific monoclonal antibody, a class of large-molecule drugs designed to target a single

protein in the body. A family of proteins called the IL-36 cytokine is associated with many inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, like disease Crohn’s and lupus. 23andMe’s antibody is designed for blocking signals from this protein family.

For treating severe forms of psoriasis, 23andMe was the most interested in the knowing effectiveness of the antibody. However, the drug still needs to undergo clinical trials in humans after it went through animal testing done by the company.

Almirall will have the right for developing and commercializing the antibody worldwide through this deal. As part of a bid to expand its early-stage research portfolio and its holdings in medical dermatology, the drugmaker said it plans to further develop the antibody to treat dermatological conditions.

“Other drug targets are being pursued by 23andMe, some of which might be put through clinical trials itself rather than licensing out to other companies”, said Drabant Conley.

She said, ” We are now seeing our five-year-old hypothesis to leverage our genetic data set to better drug development finally come to fruition.”