23andMe to mine genetic database for drug targets

23andMe Inc. plans to mine its database of genetic information for drug targets, and reports that Richard Scheller, who retired in December as head of research and early development at Roche Holding AG, will lead the effort.

23andMe Inc. plans to mine its database of genetic information for drug targets, and reports that Richard Scheller, who retired in December as head of research and early development at Roche Holding AG, will lead the effort. Scheller will become chief science officer at 23andMe next month and will lead a new therapeutics group that will seek to discover new drugs. Company officials are hoping that mutations and other genetic information harbored in the database—along with links to health information customers have provided to 23andMe—will reveal mechanisms and potential drug targets for a range of rare and common diseases. 23andMe says its database is the largest repository of human genetic data in the world. About a dozen companies, including Roche’s Genentech unit and Pfizer, already use the data under pacts with 23andMe, seeking drug-related clues about specific mutations or diseases. Unlike those collaborations, in which companies agree to pursue clearly defined projects, the new therapeutics group will have "the opportunity to look broadly through the database and not have a particular restriction to what we’re looking for," according to Scheller.