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Promising GenomicsIceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation$
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Michael Fortun and Roberto Reis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247505

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247505.001.0001

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(p.28) Ch 3 FastXFast
Promising Genomics

Mike Fortun

University of California Press

This chapter discusses how speed genomics spurred a complex political economy in Iceland, focusing on the experiences of three of the earliest genomics-based companies: Human Genome Sciences Inc., Incyte Pharmaceuticals (now Incyte Genomics), and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Each company adopted different dance steps with their outsize partners in the pharmaceutical industry, but each participated in a kind of futures market for genomic information that would intensify over the remainder of the 1990s as more genomic companies, including eventually deCODE Genetics, stepped onto the dance floor. What can we learn from these three examples about the speed transforms of genomics? The first things that changed in the field were the size, type, and connectability of biodatabases. The disease targets transformed as well. The genetics approach that had yielded the single genes (and their variants) implicated in “simple disorders” such as Huntington's and cystic fibrosis had become a genomic approach addressed to “complex conditions” such as those targeted by Millennium: heart disease, asthma, and obesity.

Keywords:   Human Genome Sciences, Incyte Genomics, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical industry, speed genomics, political economy, deCODE Genetics, biodatabases, genetics, disease targets

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