23andMe and Pfizer Launch Study to Better Understand the Genetics of Lupus

During Lupus Awareness Month, drug giant Pfizer Inc. is teaming up with leading personal genetics company 23andMe to launch the Lupus Research Study.

The companies announced that they will collaborate to launch the study, which aims to enroll 5,000 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus to help better understand the genetics of the disease. The effort is also in collaboration with the Lupus Research Institute, and in concert with Lupus Awareness Month in May.

Personalized treatments for lupus patients is limited, largely due to an incomplete understanding of the disease. To better understand the disease, 23andMe will utilize genetic information and survey questions, as well as incorporate data from participants’ medical records into the research study, upon the participants’ consent. The data obtained will be used in the analysis of longitudinal surveys with study participants over a one-year period.

“The ability to effectively personalize treatments for lupus patients is limited, due in large part to our incomplete understanding of the disease,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co-founder of 23andMe. “We hope to change that by studying human genetics alongside environmental and health history factors to ultimately help inform better treatment options for lupus patients.”

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system can attack normal, healthy issues of the body almost anywhere. The disease affects approximately 1.5 million people in the US. Common symptoms include joint inflammation, skin rashes and sores, as well as kidney, heart, and lung damage. The cause of lupus is unknown, however research indicates that it is linked to several factors, including genetics, hormones and environmental factors. No known cure exists for lupus.

“Pfizer is committed to bringing forward new treatments for patients suffering from lupus,” said Belen Carrillo-Rivas, D.Phil., Head of Research & Development Innovation Projects, BioTherapeutics Research & Development, Pfizer. “By enhancing our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, we hope to better support our clinical research activities and development programs.”

The study will look to uncover potential underlying genetic causes of the disease, specifically those associated with the onset, progression, severity and response to treatments for lupus. 23andMe will be responsible for recruiting new participants for the study, as well as conduct outreach to existing customers. Once determined eligible, the individuals will be required to give consent to participate in the project. The companies expect to complete recruitment of eligible participants by mid-2016.

“Lupus is an unpredictable and devastating disease for which the treatments can be as debilitating as the disease itself,” said Margaret Dowd, President and CEO, Lupus Research Institute. “Research on human genetics has enormous potential to deliver information that can help improve lupus treatment. The more insights that researchers can gain, the faster safer drugs can be developed. We look forward to working with 23andMe and Pfizer as we continue our efforts to educate and engage people with lupus on the importance of participating in research as one of the most powerful ways to take action against lupus.”

Source: 23andMe, Inc.

Last updated: 5/6/15; 10:50am EST


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