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Pfizer Teams up with 23andMe to Study Bowel Disease

Update Date: Aug 12, 2014 12:48 PM EDT

Multinational pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer Inc., has announced that it will be partnering up with 23andMe, a DNA testing company in order to better study bowel disease, which affects around 1.4 million Americans.

According to the new partnership, 23andMe will be responsible for mapping out the DNA of 10,000 people diagnosed with some kind of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The company will send out at-home collection kits for these patients, who will provide a saliva sample and fill out an online questionnaire regarding their symptoms and disease.

"Our research objective is to understand the genetic associations found between IBD patients' DNA and their disease, and apply this understanding to Pfizer's drug development efforts," 23andMe said in a statement reported in the Associated Press (AP) according to ABC News.

The researchers hope that if they can discover genetic similarities between patients with these bowel diseases, they can develop better treatment options. Currently, people suffering from bowel disease are treated with steroids and immune-suppressing drugs. Even though these treatment options can significantly reduce inflammation, they come with many adverse side effects.

23andMe's test collection kit was released over five years ago. The kit analyzes people's DNA and informs them of their risk for more than 250 diseases and conditions.

Google-backed 23andMe has recently gained more recognition. The company, which is founded by Anne Wojcicki, has already penned two deals with the drug manufacturing companies, Genentech and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. These recent deals have helped the company after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanded 23adnMe to stop marketing the health-related genetic tests last year. The FDA reported that the company has yet to "analytically or clinically validated its technology."

The financial agreements of this new partnership were not disclosed.

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