Genetics are the future of biomedicine, at least that’s according to Anne Wojcicki, the founder of 23andMe, a genetics startup that tried to sell a toolkit for finding genetics information on ancestry and potential health issues.
The toolkit did not work out due to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shutting it down, although it is available in other regions like the UK and Germany. However 23andMe’s goals are a lot larger than a simple ancestry reader.
In a new push to progress medicine, 23andMe has announced it will be developing its own drugs using the DNA and genetic information it receives from millions of patients worldwide.
23andMe already provides genetic information to Genentech and Pfizer, and it is considered extremely valuable since the startup brings a new mind to the equation.
The Silicon Valley approach to medicine is starting to become more approved by the government authorities in the United States. Apple recently launched ResearchKit without major disapproval from the FDA, and HealthKit remains a strong part of iOS and the Apple Watch.
If Apple is able to bypass some of the requirements, hopefully 23andMe’s new ambitious move into creating its own drugs will get past without huge regulation. Of course, the FDA still needs to check all new drugs and see quite a large amount of tests before approval, but 23andMe could find other markets worldwide if the FDA proves too much of a hassle.
It is clear medicine will not continue on the same path is has been on for 20 years, and the investments in new medical research using genetics and other information will revolutionise medicine.
The issue is that without these strong barriers, will 23andMe, Calico and other new “Silicon Valley style” medical facilities end up making a huge error.