23andMe lands $1.4m grant from NIH to detect genetic roots for disease

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WASHINGTON D.C. – Home genetics startup 23andMe has secured a $1.4 million two-year grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build survey tools and expand its gene database.

With these funds from NIH, an agency of United Department of Health and Human Services, company intends to use its stores of genetic data for various research projects. External researchers will be able to access information on thousands of diseases and traits for than 400,000 people.

grant “enables researchers from around world to genetic discoveries,” Anne Wojcicki, chief officer of 23andMe, said in a statement.

23andMe, which is backed by Inc , has not always played well with the . Late last year, it hit a major regulatory snag when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concerns about the “public health consequences of inaccurate ” from 23andMe’s $99 DNA test.

The agency took issue with 23andMe’s claim that its service could deliver insights about people’s genetic predispositions toward “254 diseases and conditions.” [eap_ad_2] 23andMe agreed to stop marketing and selling its test. But it has continued to grow its genetic database by offering raw health and ancestral information, such as a person’s ethnic heritage, in exchange for a DNA sample. The company said it has grown to 700,000 customers since 2006.

This grant does not mark a new direction for 23andMe since the FDA’s crackdown, the startup’s spokeswoman Catherine Afarian said, as the company has used its data for research in the past.

However, as it awaits FDA approval, the company appears increasingly focused on how it can use its existing data- to contribute to research, while maintaining patient privacy.

Earlier this week, 23andMe disclosed plans to contribute data to a study on new genetic risks for Parkinson’s disease spearheaded by researchers at the National Institute on Aging. 23andMe listed among than 50 worldwide institutions in contributing to the research.

With its fresh , 23andMe said it plans to develop web-based surveys to explore new genetic associations, enhance its survey tools to collect a broader data-, utilize whole-genome sequencing data, and researchers with de-identified data from its existing genetic database. (Reuters)[eap_ad_3]