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Gene sequencing project 'could lead to Parkinson's treatments'

Gene sequencing project 'could lead to Parkinson's treatments'
7th January 2015

A new programme has been launched to sequence the genomes of individuals with Parkinson's disease in the hope of developing new therapeutic targets.

Personal genetics company 23andMe and Genentech are to collaborate on the project, which will obtain whole genome sequencing data for approximately 3,000 people in 23andMe's Parkinson's disease community.

As a result of the multi-year collaboration, Genentech will have the opportunity to identify potential therapeutic targets based on data from the largest Parkinson's disease group of its kind. 

Following the conclusion of the partnership, 23andMe will be able to conduct additional research on the data and make the information available to Parkinson's researchers from around the world.

The company stressed that the privacy of the participants will be protected and it will only share de-identified individual-level data from patients who have given their explicit permission to do so.

"We are incredibly excited to work with Genentech again, and for the potential to make true breakthroughs in therapeutic research and treatment for Parkinson's disease," said 23andMe president Andy Page. 

"23andMe's research platform is unlike any other for fueling genomic discoveries that have the potential to help treat and solve disease. This collaboration is truly emblematic of both companies' broader vision of improving the human condition through genetic research."

Around 127,000 people in the UK have Parkinson's, according to Parkinson's UK. While significant advances have been made in understanding the disease, there is currently no cure or way of slowing down the disease.

Although medications are available that alleviate symptoms in some patients, more research is needed into effective treatments that are able to slow or halt the progression of the condition.

Symptoms vary between individuals, but movement is frequently affected. However, pain and depression are also common, along with a range of other potential problems.

23andMe chief executive officer and co-founder Anne Wojcicki said she believed the partnership with Genentech will speed up discoveries that help people with Parkinson's.

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