You may remember an Icelandic company called DECODE that, way back in the last decade wanted to collect DNA samples from the complete Icelandic population, link them with health data and perform amazing gene-epidemiological studies that would revolutionise medicine. Many investors will certainly remember DECODE which, at its peak had a market value in the billions. But, alas the promises of DECODE were flawed and yesterday its stock was removed from the NASDAQ stock exchange after it had filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.
However, the ethics community has a lot to thank DECODE for. Its bold project and aggressive publicity made it an excellent starting point for discussion about the ethics of gene-epidemiology, biobanking and consent.
As a firm DECODE may soon be gone (at least insofar as its stockholders are concerned), but it will live on in the bioethics literature. We can now look forward to excellent discussions of the ethics of selling biobanks owned by bankrupt firms.