There has been a slowdown in all sectors, globally, including the DNA testing and analysis space. 23andMe Inc. is all set to lay off a 100 people, that is, about 14 per cent of its workforce. The clinical trials division will be the most affected. The personal genomics and biotechnology company based in Sunnyvale, California, will now concentrate on therapeutics and the direct-to-consumer business.
Growth in this area is said to have slowed down due to consumers becoming increasingly concerned about privacy. According to CEO of 23andMe, people do not trust technology very easily. They are always fearful of information related to genetics getting exposed to the wrong people or being misused. DNA data is rather unique because it is actually linked to family members and relatives, and is capable of revealing valuable information about all near and dear ones. Therefore, people feel insecure about trusting technology here.
DNA tests offered by 23andMe have been taken by over 10 million customers. This is very useful data that can provide valuable insights, especially to pharmaceutical companies. No wonder, GlaxoSmithKline bought a $300 million stake in the Company, so that the data could be used for developing drugs.
Very recently, 23andMe licensed an antibody— developed within the organisation, which is capable of treating inflammatory diseases— to Spain-based pharmaceutical company, Almirall SA.
Launched about 14 years back, 23andMe managed to raise $786 million from venture capitalists.