Feeds

Gene testing firm goes titsup

DNA disease spotting ain't worth spit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The company that all but started the industry of selling gene tests to individuals to predict their likelihood of getting certain diseases has gone bust.

deCODE genetics Inc, said it was entering Chapter 11 - bankruptcy protection - in order to sell all its assets.

The company said it had explored "multiple restructuring alternatives" without success. It said any recovery for shareholders was very unlikely. It hopes to sell its Icelandic business to Saga Investments.

It might seem that running any kind of business from Iceland is tough at the moment - even McDonalds has given up. But this has more to do with the snake oil nature of the personal gene testing business.

The company did uncover genes which showed the carrier was predisposed to certain cancers and schizophrenia. But you might get similar information from family history without paying $1,000 for it.

deCODE genetics began life by testing the Icelandic population, and using the country's medical records, to find genes marking serious diseases which could be extrapolated for the rest of the world's population. You'd think they would have least found a gene for insanely over-leveraging their banking sector.

But what are you meant to do with the knowledge that you're slightly more likely than most to develop schizophrenia? It's enough to make anyone paranoid.

The real problem is that most of the genetic signs the company found were rare and caused only a small percentage of diseases. There is not one clear genetic signifier for most serious diseases, as the industry appeared to promise.

Which is why it managed to burn through more than $300m in funding while making enormous annual losses - $96m in 2007, compared to $85m in 2006 and just $63m in 2005.

23andMe, which offers a similar service, recently had to cut an undisclosed number of jobs. Luckily the company is partly funded by co-founder Anne Wojcicki's husband, bazillionaire Google founder Sergey Brin.

23andMe clearly has friends with deep pockets, and is still spending cash. Alongside medical stuff the company also offers a genetic ancestry service. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.