Michael J. Fox Foundation teams up with 23andMe for deeper Parkinson's insight

23andMe spit kit
The Michael J. Fox Foundation and 23andMe also have a number of collaborations with a host of biopharmas. (23andMe)

Parkinson’s disease-focused Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and consumer testing company 23andMe have come together to launch a new network aimed at combining the patient voice and genetic data from across Parkinson’s patients.

The new collaboration, Fox Insight Data Exploration Network (Fox DEN), allows data access and an analytics platform for Fox Insight, an online clinical study sponsored by the MJFF.

The Fox DEN contains “patient-reported outcomes, de-identified genetic data and data exploration tools from the largest cohort in Parkinson's disease research,” according to the pair.

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The idea is to better understand how Parkinson’s affects patients as well as their genetic makeup to improve drugs to treat the disease, which can vary from patient to patient.

Todd Sherer, Ph.D., CEO of MJFF, explained: “Parkinson's is an extremely variable disease that affects individual patients in unique ways. This complicates drug development and clinical trial design. Fox DEN addresses this by bringing the patient experience to researchers at an unprecedented scale and amplifying the patient voice in the development of new therapies for Parkinson's.”

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Fox DEN features information from surveys on health and disease, symptoms, daily activities and other factors related to patients with Parkinson's. This is then coupled with genetic information from 23andMe customers who have joined the Fox Insight study and given consent for their data to be used. The hope is that this will help better map out future drug development plans.

Paul Cannon, Ph.D., 23andMe's Parkinson's disease program manager, added: “Accelerating research is core to our mission and making this data available to qualified researchers will do just that. Fox DEN will facilitate access to and exploration of this important information increasing the pace of Parkinson's research and opening up new study opportunities.”

Both the MJFF and 23andMe have a series of separate tie-ups with biopharmas aimed at boosting Parkinson’s work, with the MJFF helping with drug trials by companies such as Novartis and 23andMe penning collaborations with the likes of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer that dig into the company’s data to help mine information for their development efforts.

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Dubbed “Project Nightingale,” the efforts were announced amid concerns and federal inquiries into the data’s safekeeping and patient consent for use.