MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – June 15th, 2011 - Today 23andMe, a leading personal genetics company, announced that it has built one of the world’s largest databases of individual genetic information. In the three and a half years since the launch of the company’s Personal Genome Service®, its database has grown to include the DNA data of more than 100,000 people.
While 23andMe customers have explored their DNA for insights into their health and ancestry, more than three-fourths of them are also participating in research by allowing 23andMe’s scientists to incorporate their genetic data, as well as their responses to online questionnaires, into 23andMe’s IRB-approved studies. Nearly 60,000 of 23andMe’s users have taken online surveys, and those who take surveys fill out at least 10 surveys on average. 23andMe’s novel, web-based research approach allows for the rapid recruitment of participants to many genome- wide association studies at once, reducing the time and money needed to make new discoveries.
“We started 23andMe to empower consumers with their own genetic information,” said 23andMe Co-Founder and President Anne Wojcicki. “Given the chance, we believed people would want to use their own data to contribute to research. And they do. While we are thrilled that more than 100,000 people have turned to 23andMe to gain access to their genetic information, we are equally delighted that over 76 percent of those individuals have agreed to participate with us in research.”
Through the constant flow of survey responses and the continued growth of its database, 23andMe’s team of 20 scientists run more than 1,000 genome-wide association studies for hundreds of conditions on a regular basis. In less than three years, 23andMe has discovered new genetic associations for common traits, found novel genetic links for childhood and adult infections, replicated more than 150 previously identified genetic associations for dozens of common diseases and medical conditions, and discovered several new genetic variants associated with Parkinson’s disease.
With more than 5,000 participants, 23andMe’s Parkinson’s Research Community represents one of the largest Parkinson’s studies in the world. Its Sarcoma Research Community of more than 500 participants is one of the world’s largest groups of individuals with this rare disease. The 23andMe research model is also being applied in other areas including a recently-launched NIH- funded study into how genetics affects individual response to common medications.
“23andMe has created an entirely new model for conducting research which we believe could significantly impact the speed of scientific discoveries going forward,” added Ms. Wojcicki. “In a short time, our customers have already helped us gain new genetic insights. Thank you to all our customers for enabling leading researchers around the world to accelerate their own studies. We look forward to an exciting future of important and meaningful research discoveries.”
23andMe additionally noted that 45 is the average age of its users, 57% of its users are male, 47% are sharing their data with other users and 12% have multiple ancestries – representing heritage from over 177 countries from Azerbaijan to Zambia. The 23andMe community forums currently have over 100,000 posts and more than 60,000 pairs of relatives have been discovered among users using 23andMe’s unique Relative Finder feature.