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Gene database in Iceland

22 March 1999
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 0

The on-going debate surrounding the Icelandic gene database project is thoroughly explored in the Sunday Times. Explaining the significant ramifications of a genetically isolated community such as Iceland for research into the causes of genetically inherited diseases, the article covers the setting up of Iceland's first biotechnology firm, Decode Genetics.

The firm hopes to collect the research gifts that the country offers in order to hunt for the causes of common diseases. A bill passed in Iceland's Parliament in December allows Decode exclusive rights to market the database abroad. After some discussion of the work carried out so far and their potential for revolutionising disease detection and cure, some of the ethical objections to the project are discussed.

A letter published in the British Medical Journal, replying to an earlier news story on the Icelandic gene database, answers some of these ethical objections. These include data protection, patients' rights and the Icelandic health authorities' access to the privately run database.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Cracking the Norse code
The Sunday Times |  21 March 1999
Icelandic gene database will uphold patients' rights
British Medical Journal |  20 March 1999
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