23andMe to shut down API for third-party data users; clinical research agreements unaffected

By Dave Muoio
02:58 pm

23andMe has emailed developers a warning that an API permitting use of anonymized customer datasets for third-party app development will be shut down in approximately two weeks, CNBC reports.

While the raw data will remain available to clinical research partners such as GlaxoSmithKline, which invested $300 million this year to gain access to the genetic testing startup’s DNA database for drug development, others will have to rely on the data made available by the company in compiled reports.

"Moving forward, we will only partner with developers building applications that leverage the data based on 23andMe reports," the company wrote in an email to CNBC. "Our hope is to bring added value to customers' overall experience. We're notifying existing developers and any impacted customers now in order to help them prepare for the changes to our program.”

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CNBC noted that 23andMe did not specify whether this decision was driven by an interest in maintaining customers’ privacy, or as a move to ensure greater control over its data.

The consumer gene testing company first opened its API to third-party developers back in 2012, and required individual-level consent for all customer data that would be used by outside developers. In the time since, the company has greatly expanded the scope of its genomic healthcare ambitions, especially after the FDA last year announced a new framework for direct-to-consumer genetic health risk tests allowing companies to bypass premarket certification for individual tests following a one-time review.

Still, data privacy remains a concern for consumers, lawmakers, and the personal genomic testing companies themselves. Just this month, a collection of companies including 23andMe, Ancestry, Helix, and others released a set of best practices regarding how personal genetic data should be handled going forward.