23andMe Publishes Findings From Parkinson’s Study

11-25-2013 9-29-43 PM

Genetics startup 23andMe published findings from a collaborative research project aimed at identifying genetic mutations that are associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. More than 50 organizations from around the world collaborated on the project, contributing sequenced genetic data or data analysis work. From the US, the National Institute on Aging’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics participated along side researchers from the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, and Boston University School of Medicine. Other global leaders in neurogenetics, such as Germany’s Max Planck Institute and England’s University College London also participated.

In total, the study analyzed seven million genetic variants from 13,000 patients with Parkinson’s and 100,000 patients without it. After comparing the data, researchers identified thirty-two chromosome locations within the genome where mutations had an elevated association to Parkinson’s risk. Researchers then further analyzed these locations and found that six of them were previously unknown risk locations. The researchers quantified the risk of a mutation in each individual location, and concluded that although risk associated with any individual mutation was relatively low, there was substantial cumulative risk when patients with a high number of mutations in these key locations were compared to patients with only a few mutations in these locations.

For its part in the study, 23andMe contributed a majority of the genetic data that was analyzed. Sequenced genomes from 4,000 Parkinson’s patients and 62,000 health individuals were provided by the company, with the consent of the customers.  This is not 23andMe’s first foray into Parkinson’s research. In 2011, the company backed a research project that went on to establish a link between two genetic mutations and the increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The most recent study was published in this months Nature Genetics journal.

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