Scientists Map Out Entire Genetic Code of Iceland

In the uniquely homogenous nation, some see great promise for disease prevention, others worry about privacy.

Norsemen landing in Iceland, by Oscar Wergeland. Most of Iceland's population descends from a relatively small group of settlers, making this kind of genetic testing uniquely feasible.

Late last month, researchers out of Iceland announced that they’d made a major leap in the field of genetics: They’d mapped the entire genetic code of their nation, the largest genomic study ever. This project, detailed in four interconnected papers in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature Genetics, was the culmination of 18 years of work by deCode, a local private research company (purchased by California’s Amgen after declaring bankruptcy in 2009). And according to these papers, the firm’s research isn’t just cool in abstract. As a roadmap for further studies, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we develop and target medical treatments, from drugs to surgical interventions.

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