Pfizer has linked up with personal genetics company 23andMe to explore the underlying cause of inflammatory bowel disease.

The companies aim to enroll 10,000 patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis to explore the genetic factors associated with the onset, progression, severity and response to treatments for IBD. Participants, who will receive 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service kit (including ancestry analysis and uninterpreted raw genetic data), will need to provide a DNA saliva sample, answer online surveys, and agree to share their data with researchers.

Some 1.4 million people suffer from IBD in the USA and the disease accounts for an overall healthcare cost of more than $1.7 billion. Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, head of biotherapeutics R&D at Pfizer, said that “by enhancing our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, we hope to better support our clinical research activities and development programmes”.

Those programmes include studies on tofacitinib for UC (Phase III) and Crohn's (Phase II) and two Phase II monoclonal antibodies being investigated in IBD.