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Almirall licenses potential inflammation treatment from genetic testing firm 23andMe

LONDON, 10 Jan (APM) - Consumer genetic testing firm 23andMe has taken a major step into the pharma space with the announcement that Almirall has licensed a bispecific monoclonal antibody from the company.
Spanish pharma Almirall has agreed to in-license an antibody designed to block all three members of the IL-36 cytokine subfamily, which are associated with multiple inflammatory diseases, including dermatological conditions, according to a Thursday statement.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
23andMe was launched in 2006 and has primarily gained attention as a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service where customers provide a saliva sample to generate reports relating to their ancestry and genetic predispositions in areas of health. More than 10 million customers have taken its DNA tests.
The company's access to data has made it an attractive prospect for pharma companies, with 23andMe working with firms such as GlaxoSmithKline and Lundbeck (APMHE 59062, APMHE 54175).
23andMe has also invested in its own research efforts, launching in 2015 a drug discovery and development division to utilise the human genetics data the company has collected.
The deal with Almirall marks the first time that 23andMe has licensed a drug compound that it has developed itself.
The company said it licensed the drug to Almirall in order to leverage company's "expertise in medical dermatology and accelerate the development of this preclinical programme".
Almirall will further progress the antibody with the goal of taking it through clinical trials in humans and onto the market.
Bloomberg quoted Emily Drabant Conley, vice president of business development, who said: "This is a seminal moment for 23andMe. We've now gone from database to discovery to developing a drug."
She also told the news agency that 23andMe is pursuing other drug targets, some of which it may put through clinical trials itself.
"We had this hypothesis five years ago that we could leverage our genetic data set to develop better drugs, and now we’re seeing this come to fruition."
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