Update: Iceland's Decode Genetics freezes in credit winter
Reykjavik - Decode Genetics, a pioneering Icelandic biotechnology company, has filed for bankruptcy. The firm has been experiencing serious financial trouble since autumn last year when it informed investors of insufficient funds to carry on trading without selling off various business arms. The firm was one of the first in the world to market disease risk DNA tests directly to the public, and had invested heavily in basic research to uncover the genetic origins of conditions such as breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. This produced a string of publications in renowned scientific publications, but never generated a profit.
The company began work in 1996 with the central idea that, because of the populations's relatively undisturbed immigration history over the past 100 years, the Icelandic population is a resource for high quality genetic data. To date, Decode Genetics has collected the genetic information of 140,000 Icelanders. Thousands of others have committed their genetic profile to Decode Genetics for testing.
Now Saga Investments, a venture capital group has agreed to buy Decode's core science operations.the Iceland-based subsidiary Islensk Erfdagreining, and its drug discovery and development programs. This agreement is subject to a number of contingencies, including a competitive bidding procedure and court approval in accordance with bankruptcy law. Islensk Erfdagreining conducts deCODE’s human genetics research, manages its population genetics resources and provides its personal genome scans, DNA-based risk assessment tests, and genomics services for contract customers. deCode made clear that neither data nor samples can ever be sold, besause they are not owned by the firm but by the individuals who gave their informed consent for defined reseach purposes.