The platform, called Fox Insight Data Exploration Network, is set to combine patient surveys with genetic information for Parkinson's research.

23andMe, Michael J. Fox Foundation team up on platform for Parkinson's research

By Laura Lovett
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23andMe kits at a Beverly Hills event in 2017. Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

This morning 23andMe announced that it is teaming up with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on a new data and analytics platform dedicated to Parkinson’s research. 

The new tool, dubbed Fox Insight Data Exploration Network (Fox DEN) is set to include patient surveys, de-identified genetic data and data exploration tools all aimed studying Parkinson’s. 

Users who opt into the platform will be able to submit surveys pertaining to their symptoms, daily activities. According to a release, this survey data will be paired with the genetic information from 23andMe customers that have opted into the Fox Insight study. 

The plan is for researchers to be able to use real world, patient-reported data along with genetic information to help with future studies. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the country, impacting 1% of the US population over the age of 60 and 4% over the age of 80, according to the CDC. As with many conditions researchers are continuing to integrate genetics and self reported patient data into clinical studies. 

23andMe and the Michael J. Fox Foundation said the tool could be used to help the research community in the future. 

"Parkinson's is an extremely variable disease that affects individual patients in unique ways. This complicates drug development and clinical trial design,” Todd Sherer, chief executive officer of MJFF, said in a statement. “Fox DEN addresses this by bringing the patient experience to researchers at an unprecedented scale and amplifying the patient voice in the development of new therapies for Parkinson’s."

THE TREND

23andMe has shown an interested in Parkinson’s research for some time. Notably last year GlaxoSmithKline invested $300 million in the company to gain exclusive access to its DNA database. At the time there was talk that the deal could accelerate GSK’s drug development work and that pharma company could use the data to develop an experimental Parkinson’s drug. 

The direct to consumer genetic testing company also became the first of its kind to land FDA clearence to sell its test kits that provide information about an individual’s risk for a certain disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. 

ON THE RECORD

"Accelerating research is core to our mission and making this data available to qualified researchers will do just that,” Paul Cannon, 23andMe's Parkinson's disease program manager, said in a statement. “Fox DEN will facilitate access to and exploration of this important information increasing the pace of Parkinson's research and opening up new study opportunities."

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