23andMe asks hospitals for help recruiting critically ill COVID-19 patients for study

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Direct-to-consumer DNA testing company 23andMe is asking hospitals to help recruit patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 to join its genetics study of the disease, according to STAT.

23andMe launched the study last month for its existing customers, which accounted for more than 400,000 participants in the last five weeks. Of those participants, 6,000 had tested positive for COVID-19. The company surveyed participants about their symptoms, experiences of their family members and whether they work in healthcare.

23andMe wants to recruit up to 10,000 new participants for the study, specifically individuals who have been hospitalized with COVID-19. The study aims to analyze their data to detect genetic differences that could explain why some infected patients end up in critical condition while others have mild to no symptoms.

Robert Green, MD, medical geneticist and physician at Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told the publication that while he supports consumer groups' initiatives to combat COVID-19, the studies won't get very far without data available through an EHR. Study participants pulled from hospital records present a different, more precise pool of participants.

"The more numbers you get, the more questions you can ask," Dr. Green said. "Is there a genetic predisposition for not only who's more severe, but once you get on a respirator, who gets off faster? Is there a predisposition for who's more tuned to renal failure?"

The new wave of 23andMe's COVID-19 study will be limited to individuals who are not already customers, according to the report.


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