Web Summit: 23andMe CEO: Nine of 10 drugs fail medical trials

LISBON, Portugal, Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --

    --  23andMe CEO Ann Wojcicki joined GlaxoSmithKline chief scientific officer
        Hal Barron to talk about their companies' joint efforts in new drug
        discovery - including work on COVID-19.
    --  Wojcicki said more than 80 percent of 23andMe's 12 million customers
        have consented to take part in drug discovery research, and that the
        company can play a leading role contributing to genetically informed
        medicine research.
    --  Wojcicki joined European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen,
        Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and tennis star Serena Williams at
        100,000-attendee online conference Web Summit.

23andMe CEO Ann Wojcicki today spoke of breakthroughs her company has contributed to in COVID-19 and depression research. Wojcicki made the remarks at the 100,000-attendee Web Summit - the largest tech conference in the world.

Wojcicki said 23andMe has more than 12 million customers, of whom 80 percent have consented to take part in drug discovery research. Wojcicki went on to say the company's research on COVID-19 and depression have already yielded positive results.

"One thing I'm always impressed with our customers is that we can get such a massive amount of participation. We had hundreds of thousands of people who participated in a depression study, and we were actually able to find genetic associations for the first time," said Wojcicki.

"Similarly, with COVID-19, we had more than one million people who took that study. If you think about some of the power of the platform, it really is about saying we're going to have people who are engaged, who are ready, who have already consented. We have the genetic information and [are] giving [our customers] the opportunity to participate in research.

"The fact that one million people signed up, starting April 6, taking the survey, and we were able to find that O blood type is protective is amazing," said Wojcicki, referring to 23andMe research that found people with O blood type are nine to 18 percent less likely than others to have tested positive for COVID-19.

"Industry analysis shows that nine out of 10 potential new medicines fail in clinical trials, while further research suggests that genetically validated approaches could double the rate of success and bring more new medicines to patients in need.

"We have an incredible amount of data, which means that there's an incredible amount of opportunity for discovery. One thing that I am really excited about that we did not necessarily expect to be so productive here is the work that we can do on rare diseases.

"I think that's where there is real medical need, and these communities are incredibly passionate, and we're finding that we can find some really interesting associations that could potentially lead to programmes that we move into the clinic," said Wojcicki.

About Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, a leading direct-to-consumer genetics and research company based in California. She is a former Wall Street healthcare analyst.

About Web Summit

In the words of Inc. Magazine, "Web Summit is the largest technology conference in the world". Forbes says Web Summit is "the best tech conference on the planet", Bloomberg calls it "Davos for geeks", Politico "the Olympics of tech", and the Guardian "Glastonbury for geeks".

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Web Summit YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJtkHqH4Qof97TSx7BzE5IQ

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SOURCE Web Summit