Consumer genetics heavyweight 23andMe announced late last week that it had signed an agreement with Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall for it to in-license 23andMe’s monoclonal antibody designed to block all three members of the IL-36 cytokine subfamily, with an eye toward commercializing it for worldwide use.
IL-36 is a part of the IL-1 cytokine family, which is associated with multiple inflammatory diseases, including various dermatological conditions.
“Working with Almirall, we’re pleased to be furthering 23andMe’s mission of helping people benefit from genetic insights. As a leader in medical dermatology, we felt Almirall was the best company to take this program forward and ultimately develop an effective therapy for patients,” said Kenneth Hillan, head of therapeutics at 23andMe, in a press release.
The bispecific antibody developed by 23andMe leverages the company’s genetic data that it has generated over the past decade. The company sates that it has sold more than 10 million of it consumer genetics kits and that 80% of its customers have consented for their data to be used for research purposes. 23andMe established its therapeutics team in 2015 and the current deal is one of the first programs to bear fruit for the company as it looks to work with pharma partners. In 2018, the company also cemented a $300 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline for Parkinson’s disease and other indications.
In the current deal, 23andMe has found a solid partner in Almirall for its bispecific monoclonal antibody, as it will to leverage Almirall’s expertise in medical dermatology and accelerate the development of this preclinical program. Almirall work to further develop the antibody with the goal of taking it through clinical trials in humans and onto the market.
“The partnership with 23andMe, a leader in genetics and biotechnology, gives us a unique opportunity to address the unmet medical needs in Immuno-dermatology,” said Bhushan Hardas, M.D., chief scientific officer of Almirall.