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A Genetics Company Fails, Its Research Too Complex

DeCode Genetics, a pioneering company that used the Icelandic population as its guinea pigs in detecting disease-causing mutations, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.

The company’s demise suggests that the medical promise of the human genome may take much longer to be fulfilled than its sponsors had hoped. Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, it was founded in 1996 by Dr. Kari Stefansson, a research neurologist who worked at the University of Chicago and at Harvard. After the human genome sequence was achieved in 2003, Dr. Stefansson quickly realized that Iceland’s excellent medical records, combined with the genealogical information available on its close-knit population, provided a fine test bed for seeking the roots of genetically complex diseases like cancer, diabetes and schizophrenia.

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