23andMe to Disable API Access to Outside App Developers: Report

Published: Aug 27, 2018 By

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Changes are coming to the way 23andMe does business. The company will no longer provide “outside app developers” access to the company’s raw genetic data, CNBC reported this morning.

This is a significant change for those health and weight loss app developers, CNBC said. The developers have been able to use the data sets generated by 23andMe since 2012. That was the year the company opened its application programming interface (API), CNBC said. Initially, 23andMe had an idea that these app developers could be able to build and maintain a broad range of digital tools for the 23andMe clients.

That has now changed. CNBC said the company notified the app developers last week that the API is being disabled in two weeks. From now on, the apps will only be able to use reports generated by 23andMe and not the raw data. That move will now limit the amount of data those app developers will have access to.

"We're updating our API program to focus on apps that build on the interpretations and results we provide to our customers," 23andMe said in the email, according to CNBC, which said it viewed the company’s notification.

The company said the change will provide “added value” to its customer’s experience. However, 23and Me did not disclose whether or not the move had any relation to privacy concerns that have popped up over the DNA data collected by the company and others like it. That issue reached a national furor in the wake of police harnessing DNA reports generated by some companies in order to identify a murder suspect.

The move will not impact the partnership 23andMe signed with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline. GSK, as well as other research partners, will have access to 23andMe’s raw data. In July GSK and 23andMe announced they were teaming up to discover novel drug targets with genetic validation that will come through 23andMe’s extensive genetic database. In July GSK’s Hal Barron, the company’s head of R&D, said the partnership will help drive its R&D efforts through the use of genetics. Barron said they will leverage the “vast amounts of human genetic data now being generated” as part of its drug-design plans. GSK will analyze the data with machine learning to “generate new insights, improve our probability of success, enable us to focus and, most importantly, create new medicines that will have important benefits for patients,” Barron said at the time. Both companies will provide a 50/50 co-funding of the collaborative research efforts. As part of its partnership with 23andMe, GSK took a $300 million equity stake in the company. 

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