23andMe Acquires CureTogether to Boost Crowdsourced Genetic Health Research

23andMe, the Mountain View startup with the ambitious goal of making the human genome indexed and searchable on an individual basis, today announced that it has acquired fellow Mountain View startup CureTogether. CureTogether tracks conditions linked to genetics and brings together affected individuals to share symptoms, treatments and possible causes. For 23andMe, which also wants to help contribute to the personalization of healthcare through genetic research, CureTogether’s data and experience are a valuable asset.

“CureTogether has a highly engaged community that has already provided more than 4 million datapoints across more than 500 different health conditions,” 23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki told BetaKit in an interview. “This information and the ongoing ability of CureTogether to engage people around their health could help inform future genetic discoveries. One of 23andMe’s core missions is to create a patient-powered model for research that advances our understanding of genetics and enables personalized medicine.”

23andMe has helped with a number of public projects around genetics, including the PBS series “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,” where it helped with the genotyping of a number of celebrities for the series, which traced the roots of actresses, actors and other personalities via their maternal and paternal lineages as well as historical research. The company’s customer-facing tools provide similar services for users, as well as access to disease-specific communities around genetic disorders.

While CureTogether will help contribute to that aspect of its business, and also to its research efforts with educational institution partners, it’ll also continue to operate separately for its existing community members. “CureTogether will continue to support their community members through their personal health journeys,” Wojcicki explained. “CureTogether provides an additive experience for 23andMe’s active community members who share a variety of information with us and with one another through our online research and community forums.”

In terms of their larger strategy, Wojcicki says that CureTogether presented a good acquisition target because of its strong existing community, rich data pool and talent. She also noted that 23andMe will “continue to be opportunistic” regarding future potential acquisition targets. That approach, combined with its existing strong positioning with consumers and research institutions alike, should help it become a go-to resource for anyone looking to leverage the power of the collective human genetic record.

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