Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Owner of massive genomics database goes bankrupt. What will happen to the data?

The owners of one of the largest databases of genomics information and biological samples, in Iceland, has gone bankrupt.

The article in Nature says that the database and the samples cannot be sold, but it remains to be seen what will happen with this trove of incredibly valuable and deeply sensitive personal information.

Icelandic genomics firm goes bankrupt : Nature News

... deCODE intends to sell most of its assets, including its drug-discovery and development services and the unit that conducts its genetic research, to Saga Investments, a US venture-capital-backed company, unless a better offer is made. The database and biological samples themselves cannot be sold, Stefánsson says, because of legal restrictions on their use. He says that the Wellcome Trust in Britain had approached deCODE to try to fund a non-profit institute to manage the database in Iceland, but was unable to do so.

"The database will never be managed by a foreign organization," he says. "The data are sensitive. We are a proud nation, and the data are not for others to manage."

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