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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Purchase by Amgen Won't Affect deCODE Genetics' Research, Founder Says
10 December 2012 5:05 pm
The biotech giant Amgen will purchase deCODE Genetics, the pioneering Icelandic genetics company, for $415 million, the two companies announced today. deCODE Genetics CEO Kári Stefánsson will remain in place and pledges that the company will continue its high-profile research to make connections between genetic variations and disease.
The sale is the latest turn in the road for deCODE, which Stefánsson founded in 1996 with the intention of creating a DNA database of the whole Icelandic population and mining it for genetic markers linked to common diseases. The company never received legal approval for such a national database. But more than 140,000 volunteers agreed to allow the company to combine their medical and DNA information with Iceland's genealogy database.
deCODE has since churned out papers in top journals on its genetics discoveries. But the company struggled to turn a profit from its diagnostic tests and drug development efforts. Three years ago, deCODE declared bankruptcy, then reemerged after an investment consortium bought some of its assets.
Stefánsson says that as a subsidiary of Amgen, deCODE will now have the financial backing to turn its discoveries into drugs. "It's an incredible opportunity for us," he says. Amgen Executive Vice President for Research and Development Sean Harper says the biotech company, headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California, will also rely on deCODE to validate its own targets and develop diagnostic tests for drugs that work well only for patients with a particular genetic profile. "We believe in this strongly and we want to see our discovery of targets be guided by human genetics," Harper says. However, because of Iceland's data privacy laws and deCODE's agreements with local clinicians, deCODE's database and DNA samples must remain in Iceland.
deCODE's research, such as this recent study in Nature using whole-genome sequencing to find a genetic variant that protects against Alzheimer's disease, will carry on, Stefánsson says. "We will continue to make discoveries and publish them freely," Stefánsson says.