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From bargain to multi-million exit

12.12.2012 - Amgen will buy deCODE Genetics for US$415m in cash. The US firm gains access to a pioneering genetics platform that has a history with steep turns.

By purchasing deCODE of Iceland, Amgen will intensify efforts to boost its drive to develop targeted drugs. Founded in 1996, deCODE Genetics specialises in analysing and understanding the links between the genome and disease susceptibility, through using its access to a well-defined population in Iceland. The company has discovered genetic risk factors for a number of diseases ranging from cardiovascular illnesses to cancer. However, deCODE failed to fulfill early expectations after going public in 2000. In 2009, the biotech filed for bankruptcy protection, loaded with 13 years of unfulfilled hopes of investors and the influence of the financial crisis. However, the two renowned investors Polaris and Arch believed in the future of deCODE's business model and pulled the company from the stock market.

According to Fierce Biotech, Polaris and Arch purchased the assets originally for only US-$14m. "deCODE Genetics has built a world-class capability in the study of the genetics of human disease," said Robert Bradway, president and CEO at Amgen. "This capability will enhance our efforts to identify and validate human disease targets. This fits perfectly with our objective to pursue rapid development of relevant molecules that reach the right disease targets while avoiding investments in programs based on less well-validated targets." "One of the ways to truly realise the full value of human genetics, is to make our research synergistic with drug development efforts, where target discovery, validation and prioritisation efforts can be accelerated," said Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO at deCODE Genetics, who will stay with the company.

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