23andMe Launches New Genetic Reports on Common Forms of Cancer

March 6, 2024

23andMe customers can now gain deeper insight into their likelihood of developing breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer through new reports based on polygenic risk scores (PRS) developed by 23andMe

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 23andMe Holding Co. (Nasdaq: ME), a leading human genetics and biopharmaceutical company, released three new genetic reports for 23andMe+ members on breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. The reports are based on statistical models known as polygenic risk scores (PRS), developed by 23andMe through its proprietary research database. These PRS reports calculate the likelihood of an individual developing one of these cancers, based on thousands of genetic variants associated with the disease.

Recent studies show a rise in younger people being diagnosed with cancer. A BMJ Oncology study revealed that between 1990 and 2019 cancer rates worldwide have risen 79% in people under the age of 50. A 2023 American Cancer Society report found that 20 percent of colorectal cancer diagnoses in 2019 were in patients under age 55, almost twice the rate in 1995. Breast and colorectal cancers were among the top three cancers with the highest numbers of early-onset diagnoses in 2019.

“Using these reports to understand your likelihood to develop common cancers is an important step toward further integrating genetics into healthcare,” said Noura Abul-Husn, Vice President of Genomic Health at 23andMe. “Today, there is increasing evidence and support for the use of PRS in personalized disease prevention, and certain medical specialties — including oncology — have already begun to adopt this to inform clinical decision-making. These new reports will help customers better understand their overall likelihood for developing these diseases, and enable them to work with their healthcare providers to implement prevention plans.”

The new reports released today were developed by 23andMe scientists and clinical experts, using the Company’s massive database of genetic and health information contributed by consented research participants. 23andMe now offers over 40 PRS reports, which utilize machine learning to analyze the complex interplay of thousands of genetic variants linked to specific conditions or diseases.

23andMe’s New Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer PRS Reports
The new 23andMe PRS reports focus on some of the most common cancers for which genetics are often a factor, noting where some customers may have an increased likelihood of developing these conditions relative to average. This is important because averages can mask large differences – some people have a higher chance of developing cancer and some a slightly lower chance, due to genetics and other factors. Importantly, healthy lifestyle habits can offset an increased genetic likelihood for developing these diseases, while routine screening can help with early detection.

  • On average 1 in 8 females will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
  • On average 1 in 8 males will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime
  • On average 1 in 25 people will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime

Depending on the type of cancer PRS report and individuals’ ethnicity, up to 5-to-30 percent of current 23andMe+ Premium and 23andMe+ Total Health members will see an increased likelihood result.

“The hope is that this information will help more people, alerting them to a chance of developing the disease that they might not have known otherwise,” said Abul-Husn.

There are limitations with these reports. Availability of the breast cancer and prostate cancer PRS reports is based on self-reported birth sex. These new reports do not diagnose the conditions, do not describe a person’s overall likelihood for developing the conditions, and they do not include all genetic variants, including those linked to hereditary cancer syndromes, that may be associated with risks for these conditions. Further, the new colorectal cancer report is only available for those of European and Latino/Hispanic descent, as there is not yet enough data to provide a result for those of other ethnicities - a historical issue with genetic research and polygenic scores at large. In fact, research shows more than 80 percent of genetic studies are conducted in people of European descent*.

To help address this issue, 23andMe has launched the Genetic insights into colorectal cancer in the Black community study, welcoming individuals with African ancestry and / or identifying as Black or African American to participate. Through this study, we hope to gather enough data to improve the polygenic score and our ability to inform Black and African Americans about how their genetics impact their chance of developing colorectal cancer. Individuals who participate in this research study will have the option to access health reports through a 23andMe+ Premium membership at no-cost. To learn more about this study please visit our landing page. The Company also has additional efforts underway to improve data, research, and model performance in other populations.

The PRS models on which the new 23andMe reports are based were developed using the 23andMe database, and further validated using an external database. Full details on the models can be found in this white paper.

To learn more about the new 23andMe PRS reports on cancer, and becoming a 23andMe+ Premium member, visit https://www.23andme.com/membership/.

*Popejoy et al. Nature 2016; Martin et al. Nat Genet 2019; Mills et al. Commun Biol 2019

About 23andMe
23andMe is a genetics-led consumer healthcare and therapeutics company empowering a healthier future. For more information, please visit investors.23andme.com.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included or incorporated in this press release are forward-looking statements. The words "believes," "anticipates," "estimates," "plans," "expects," "intends," "may," "could," "should," "potential," "likely," "projects," “predicts,” "continue," "will," “schedule,” and "would" or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology, are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. These forward-looking statements are predictions based on 23andMe’s current expectations and projections about future events and various assumptions. 23andMe cannot guarantee that it will actually achieve the plans, intentions, or expectations disclosed in its forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on 23andMe’s forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond the control of 23andMe), or other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained herein are also subject generally to other risks and uncertainties that are described from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including under Item 1A, “Risk Factors” in the Company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and as revised and updated by our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. The statements made herein are made as of the date of this press release and, except as may be required by law, 23andMe undertakes no obligation to update them, whether as a result of new information, developments, or otherwise.

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