News of the WeekHuman Genetics

Start-Up Claims Piece of Iceland's Gene Pie

Science  11 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5455, pp. 951
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5455.951

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For almost 2 years, Iceland's small scientific and medical community has been torn apart by a bold plan to pool the entire country's medical records in a database that would aid the search for disease-causing genes. In December 1998, parliament approved the creation of the database, and just a month ago, the health ministry gave one company, deCODE, exclusive rights to run it--a move that engendered heated opposition. Now, a small biotech start-up is providing an alternative for those critics who want to mine Iceland's genetic riches but dislike the arrangement with deCODE.