Bio Saga Headlines

Bio Saga

Monday, March 16, 2009

23andMe-Led Team Offers Program to Enroll Parkinson's Patients

The personal genetics service firm 23andMe, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center announced yesterday that they are enrolling 10,000 people to be part of a new Parkinson's disease community. The effort is aimed at establishing the resources necessary for future genome-wide association studies and other research initiatives.

In an effort to entice individuals with Parkinson's disease to participate, 23andMe is slashing the price of its service from $399 to $25 for a limited time for up to 10,000 individuals with Parkinson's disease who sign up through the Parkinson's Institute or the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is married to 23andMe co-founder Ann Wojcicki, will ante up an undisclosed amount of cash to subsidize the genotyping costs.

To be eligible, individuals must have physician-diagnosed Parkinson's disease and agree to provide saliva samples and fill out online surveys about their condition. Members of the Parkinson's community will also have access to the complete 23andMe Personal Genome Service. Current 23andMe customers who do not have the disease can participate as healthy controls in the project by voluntarily filling out the company's Parkinson's disease survey.

The latest research project is distinct from a collaboration between the same organizations announced last spring, Rachel Cohen, manager of communications at 23andMe. Cohen said that effort was specifically aimed at developing web-based diagnostic tools for Parkinson's disease, whereas the latest project is aimed at making sure they have individuals with Parkinson's disease on board for research efforts.

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