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Amgen Increases Genomics Arsenal with $415M Acquisition of DeCode

By Catherine Shaffer
Staff Writer

Amgen Inc. made a hefty investment in personalized medicine by acquiring Reykjavik, Iceland-based DeCode Genetics Inc., a company developing DNA-based tests to pinpoint disease risk, for $415 million in cash. Amgen plans to use the technology to improve its ability to identify and validate targets for drug discovery.

DeCode’s scientific strategy is based on analyzing gene sequence and medical information from a population of 500,000 volunteers around the world, including over half the adult population of Iceland, combined with genealogical records going back more than 1,000 years. That unique data set has allowed DeCode to build an unprecedented population-level search engine for gene variants related to disease.

Within the past year, DeCode has identified gene variants significant for Alzheimer's and thyroid cancer, and the company has a number of active collaborations. In 2011, it partnered with Pfizer Inc. to search for gene variants related to systemic lupus erythematosus. And DeCode’s partnership with Illumina Inc. has yielded discoveries related to gout and ovarian cancer.

Amgen said that the acquisition of deCODE fits with its mission to rapidly develop molecules targeting diseases in its pipeline, while avoiding investment in targets that are not well-validated.