Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he plans to contribute funding to a new study that aims to use a DNA database to identify the genetic causes of Parkinson's disease, the New York Times reports.
23andMe, a personal genomics services company, plans to use its growing database of consumer DNA to conduct the study.
23andMe hopes to recruit 10,000 people with Parkinson's disease to participate in the study. The not-for-profit Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research will help recruit study participants.
People with Parkinson's disease who agree to participate in the study will receive the same analysis of their DNA as other 23andMe customers but will pay $25 instead of the full $399 price.
Study participants will complete Web-based questionnaires about their symptoms and lifestyles.
Existing 23andMe customers can volunteer to serve as controls for the study. Brin, who announced last September that he had a genetic mutation that greatly increases his risk for developing Parkinson's, will participate as a control.
Brin, who will pay for most of the study, declined comment on its cost.
Sarah Murray, director of genetics at the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego, said the participants' self-reporting of symptoms could lead to poor data quality.
23andMe executives said they hope to conduct similar studies for other diseases.
Such studies could become a source of revenue for the company if drug companies were to pay for 23andMe to mine its database or analyze the DNA of clinical trial participants.
23andMe executives said that they would never sell individual customers' DNA data and that names are removed from the data when the company conducts in-house research. The executives added that customers would have to agree to participate in a study (Pollack, New York Times, 3/12).