WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer Inc. is teaming up with DNA testing company 23andMe to study the possible genetic underpinnings of inflammatory bowel disease, a hard-to-treat ailment that affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans.
Under the agreement, Silicon Valley-based 23andMe will map the DNA of 10,000 patients who have forms of the disease, which include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients will submit saliva samples using 23andMe's at-home collection kit and then fill out online questionnaires about their disease and symptoms.
The companies hope to identify genetic similarities among patients with the disease, which could eventually guide development of new targeted drugs.
"Our research objective is to understand the genetic associations found between IBD patients' DNA and their disease, and apply this understanding to Pfizer's drug development efforts," 23andMe said in a statement.
Current drug options for the bowel disease include steroids and immune-suppressing drugs, which reduce inflammation but also can cause serious side effects.
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown, though many scientists suspect genetics play a role. Other scientists believe the problems are triggered by a virus or bacteria.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 23andMe, founded by Anne Wojcicki, who is separated from her husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has penned two similar deals with drugmakers Genentech and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
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