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Google Co-Founder Underwrites Parkinson's Trial

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, March 12, 2009 11:28 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: DNA, Parkinson's Disease, Genetics, Tremors

The founder of Google funds Parkinson's research trying to uncover his own genetic risk.



IMAGE SOURCE: Times online. / Sergy Brin and Anne  Wojcicki


The co-founder of Google wants to know if he has a mutation that can lead to Parksinson’s disease and is spending millions to underwrite a genetic study to be conducted with data collected online.

Sergey Brin, 35, recently learned that he has inherited from his mother, a gene mutation that raises his risk of contracting Parkinson’s anywhere from 20 to 80 percent.   His mother has Parksinson’s.

Brin is married to Anne Wojcicki, who owns the data collecting web site 23andMe. The company offers genetic testing for $400 that allows you to explore you genome by matching it to the likelihood of developing 105 diseases from cancer to baldness.  

Altogether about 10,000 Parkinson’s patients will be recruited through the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a research charity founded by the actor. 

Their DNA will be analyzed to determine if there are any common environmental factors. Then the group will be compared to healthy controls.  

And the testing will be low cost - about $25 per patient, underwritten by Brin.

The couple has a three-month-old son, so the genetic data has been run on him as well. So far the results are inconclusive.

Parkinson’s is an incurable brain disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking. Symptoms, such as tremors, often appear after the age of 50. There is no known cure.

““We can make significant progress in understanding Parkinson’s disease if individuals join together and contribute their personal experiences to scientific research,” Brin said to the Timesonline. 

This is the first time paying customers have had their DNA read to look for the origins of disease.

Testing 10,000 people can bring 23andMe about $4 million, while Google has invested about that amount in the company. #

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