23andMe

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23andMe, Inc.
TypePrivate
IndustryBiotechnology
Founded2006 April
Founder(s)Anne Wojcicki, Paul Cusenza, and Linda Avey
HeadquartersMountain View, California, United States
Key peopleEsther Dyson, board member
ProductsGenetic test
ServicesGenetic testing
Websitewww.23andme.com
 
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23andMe, Inc.
TypePrivate
IndustryBiotechnology
Founded2006 April
Founder(s)Anne Wojcicki, Paul Cusenza, and Linda Avey
HeadquartersMountain View, California, United States
Key peopleEsther Dyson, board member
ProductsGenetic test
ServicesGenetic testing
Websitewww.23andme.com

23andMe is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company based in Mountain View, California that provides rapid genetic testing.[1] The company is named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a normal human cell. Their personal genome test kit was named Invention of the Year by Time magazine in 2008.[2]

Founding[edit]

The company was founded by Linda Avey, Paul Cusenza, and Anne Wojcicki to provide genetic testing and interpretation to individual consumers.[3][4] Cusenza left the company in 2007 and has been CEO of Nodal Exchange since 2008.[5] Avey left the company in 2009 to establish a foundation to study the causes and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.[6]

Products and services[edit]

23andMe began offering its direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA testing service in November 2007. Customers provide a saliva sample that is SNP genotyped.[3][7][8] Results are posted online, along with an assessment of inherited traits, genealogy, and possible congenital risk factors.[9] In 2008, Time magazine named the company's saliva-based DNA-testing service as the Invention of the Year.[2]

The company also provides testing for some research initiatives,[10] providing confidential customer datasets to and partnering with researchers to establish genetic associations with specific illnesses and disorders.[3] Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose mother suffers from Parkinson's disease, underwrote the cost of the company's Parkinson's disease genetics initiative to provide free testing for those with the condition.[11] One analysis comparing 23andMe's Parkinson's research with a National Institutes of Health initiative suggested that the company's use of large amounts of computational power and datasets might offer comparable results, although in much less time.[12]

In late 2009 23andMe split its genotyping service into three products with different prices, an Ancestry Edition, a Health edition, and a Complete Edition.[13] This decision was reversed a year later when the different products were recombined.[14] In late 2010 the company introduced a monthly subscription fee for updates based on new research findings.[14][15] The subscription model proved unpopular with customers and was eliminated in mid-2012.[16]

As of March 2014, 23andMe has genotyped approximately 650,000 individuals.[17]

Underwriting[edit]

In 2007, Google invested $3,900,000 in the company, along with Genentech, New Enterprise Associates, and Mohr Davidow Ventures.[18] In 2012, 23andMe raised $50 million in a Series D venture round, almost doubling its existing capital of $52.6 million.[19][20][21]

Relationship with government regulators[edit]

The new genetic testing service and ability to map significant portions of the genome has raised controversial questions, including whether the results can be interpreted meaningfully and whether they will lead to genetic discrimination.[2] The regulatory environment for testing companies has been uncertain and anticipated risk-based regulation catering for different types of genetic tests has not yet materialized.[14][22][23]

State regulators[edit]

In 2008 it was reported that the states of New York and California unsuccessfully attempted to block such tests, provided by 23andMe as well as other companies, under the grounds that they were not properly licensed and attempted to require tests to be conducted only when ordered by a physician.[2][24][25] By August 2008, 23andMe had received licenses that allow them to continue to do business in California.[26]

FDA[edit]

According to Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe has been in dialogue with the FDA since 2008.[23] In 2010 the FDA notified several genetic testing companies, including 23andMe, that their genetic tests are considered medical devices and federal approval is required to market them.[14][27] 23andMe first submitted applications for FDA clearance in July and September 2012.[28] On November 22, 2013, after not hearing from 23andMe for six months, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing its Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) as 23andMe had not demonstrated that they have "analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses" and the "FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device".[28][29][30] As of December 2, 2013, 23andMe has stopped all advertisements for its PGS test but is still selling the product.[31][32] As of December 5, 2013, 23andMe is only selling raw genetic data and ancestry-related results.[33][34][35]

According to science writer Razib Khan, this development ultimately will not matter as raw genetic results can be obtained cheaply from international genome sequencing firms and open source tools to analyse such data using published scientific research are freely available.[36] Ronald Bailey writes in Reason Magazine: "The FDA bureaucrats think that they know better than you how to handle your genetic information. This is outrageous."[37] Technology writer Timothy B. Lee argues in the Washington Post against the FDA preventing consumer access to personal health information provided by 23andMe, stating that any risky medical decisions patients made based on 23andMe's services would require the involvement of licensed medical professionals.[38] TechFreedom promoted a petition asking the FDA not to ban 23andMe's home genome testing kits.[37] Science and medicine writer Matthew Herper was more critical of 23andMe, writing in Forbes magazine: "The FDA probably felt it had little choice. This is not the story of a big regulator choosing to squash a small company, but of a company that decided that it didn't have to follow the rules."[39]

23andMe publicly responded to media reports on November 25, 2013, stating, "We recognize that we have not met the FDA’s expectations regarding timeline and communication regarding our submission. Our relationship with the FDA is extremely important to us and we are committed to fully engaging with them to address their concerns."[36][40][41] Anne Wojcicki subsequently posted an update on the 23andMe website, stating: "This is new territory for both 23andMe and the FDA. This makes the regulatory process with the FDA important because the work we are doing with the agency will help lay the groundwork for what other companies in this new industry do in the future. It will also provide important reassurance to the public that the process and science behind the service meet the rigorous standards required by those entrusted with the public’s safety."[23]

On December 5, 2013, 23andMe announced that it has suspended health-related genetic tests for customers who purchased the test from November 22, 2013 in order to comply with the FDA warning letter while undergoing regulatory review.[33][34][35]

Class action lawsuits[edit]

On November 27, 2013, 23andMe customer Lisa Casey filed a class action lawsuit against 23andMe in the Southern California federal district court for misleading advertising of its PGS test "when there is no analytical or clinical validation for the PGS for its intended uses". Casey is suing for at least $5 million in damages, representing the aggregate of the $99 PGS test purchase price paid by thousands of customers the plaintiff believes to be in the class.[42][43][44]

On December 19, 2013, another class action lawsuit was filed against 23andMe for misleading advertising by Tara Stefani and Tanya Vullanueva in the Massachusetts federal district court.[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fact Sheet". 23andMe. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hamilton, Anita (October 29, 2008). "Best Inventions of 2008". Time. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Goetz, Thomas (November 17, 2007). "23AndMe Will Decode Your DNA for $1,000. Welcome to the Age of Genomics". Wired. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Corporate Info". 23andMe. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Board Of Directors". Nodal Exchange. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Co-founder Avey leaves 23andMe". San Jose Business Journal. American City Business Journals. September 4, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Our Service: Genotyping Technology". 23andMe. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ Hadly, Scott (November 18, 2013). "23andMe’s New Custom Chip". 23andMe. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ Baertlein, Lisa (November 20, 2007). "Google-backed 23andMe offers $999 DNA test". USA Today. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ "23andWe Research". 23andMe. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  11. ^ Epstein, Nadine. "Genia Brin’s Double Parkinson’s Mutation". Moment. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ Goetz, Thomas (June 22, 2010). "Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure". Wired. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  13. ^ Wu, Shirley (November 13, 2009). "Get Just the Information You Want: 23andMe To Offer Separate Health and Ancestry Editions". 23andMe. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d Vorhaus, Dan (November 23, 2010). "A Thanksgiving Tradition: 23andMe Repackages Product, Raises Prices". Genomics Law Report. Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  15. ^ MacArthur, Daniel (November 24, 2010). "News from 23andMe: a bigger chip, a new subscription model and another discount drive". Wired. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ "23andMe Eliminates Subscription Model". GenomeWeb Daily News. May 10, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  17. ^ Kiss, Jemima (March 9, 2014). "23andMe admits FDA order 'significantly slowed up' new customers". The Guardian. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Google invests in genetics firm". BBC News. May 22, 2007. Retrieved June 28, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Press Release: 23andMe Raises More Than $50 Million in New Financing". 23andMe. December 11, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ Tsotsis, Alexia (December 11, 2012). "Another $50M Richer, 23andMe Drops Its Price To $99 Permanently. But Will The Average Dude Buy In?". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  21. ^ "23andMe". CrunchBase. AOL. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  22. ^ Greely, Hank (November 25, 2013). "The FDA drops an anvil on 23andMe – now what?". Stanford University. Retrieved November 29, 2013. "FDA had promised a risk-based regulatory scheme, but we don’t know what it is." 
  23. ^ a b c Wojcicki, Anne (November 26, 2013). "An Update Regarding The FDA’s Letter to 23andMe". 23andMe. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  24. ^ Robert Langreth and Matthew Herper (April 18, 2008). "States Crack Down On Online Gene Tests". Forbes. 
  25. ^ Jason Kincaid (June 18, 2008). "Cease And Desist: California Tries to Unravel 23andMe's Genetic Testing". The Washington Post (TechCrunch.com). 
  26. ^ Pollack, Andrew (August 20, 2008). "California Licenses 2 Companies to Offer Gene Services". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ "FDA cracking down on genetic tests". NBC. June 11, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations – 23andMe, Inc. 11/22/13". FDA. November 22, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  29. ^ Perrone, Matthew (November 25, 2013). "FDA Tells 23andMe to Halt Sales of Genetic Test". ABC News. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  30. ^ Gray, Tyler (November 25, 2013). "FDA To 23andMe Founder Anne Wojcicki: Stop Marketing $99 DNA Test Or Face Penalties". Fast Company (magazine). Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  31. ^ Garde, Damian (December 3, 2013). "23andMe pulls ads after FDA warning, but sales roll on". FierceMedicalDevices. FierceMarkets. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  32. ^ del Castillo, Michael (December 3, 2013). "Calm down about 23andMe, the media is getting it wrong". Upstart Business Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "23andMe, Inc. provides update on FDA regulatory review" (Press release). 23andMe. December 5, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  34. ^ a b Herper, Matthew (December 5, 2013). "23andMe Stops Offering Genetic Tests Related to Health". Forbes. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  35. ^ a b Fung, Brian (December 6, 2013). "Bowing again to the FDA, 23andMe stops issuing health-related genetic reports". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Khan, Razib (November 25, 2013). "The FDA's Battle With 23andMe Won't Mean Anything in the Long Run". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  37. ^ a b Bailey, Ronald (November 25, 2013). "FDA Shuts Down 23andMe: Outrageously Banning Consumer Access to Personal Genome Information". Reason Magazine. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  38. ^ Lee, Timothy B. (November 25, 2013). "The FDA should leave 23andMe alone". Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  39. ^ Herper, Matthew (November 25, 2013). "23andStupid: Is 23andMe Self-Destructing?". Forbes. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  40. ^ Etherington, Darrell (November 25, 2013). "DNA Testing Startup 23andMe Hits A Snag As FDA Shuts Down Sales Of Home Testing Kit". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  41. ^ Young, Susan (November 25, 2013). "Updated: FDA Orders 23andMe to Stop Genetic Tests". Technology Review. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  42. ^ Munro, Dan (December 2, 2013). "Class Action Law Suit Filed Against 23andMe". Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  43. ^ Garde, Damian (December 3, 2013). "23andMe hit with lawsuit over 'meaningless' gene tests". FierceMedicalDevices. FierceMarkets. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  44. ^ Perrone, Matthew (December 3, 2013). "23andMe faces class action lawsuit in California". The Associated Press. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  45. ^ Convey, Eric (December 19, 2013). "Women sue 23andMe over marketing claims". Boston Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved December 20, 2013.