The Cambridge-based biotech company Gemini Holdings has announced plans for a genetic database in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The project, to be called Newfound Genetics, is a joint venture between Gemini and a consortium called Lineage Biomedical, set up by Newfoundland doctors. It hopes to recruit families affected by genetic conditions common in the province, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Most of Newfoundland's 550,000 inhabitants are descended from just 25,000 English, Scottish and Irish settlers who arrived in the province between the 17th and 19th centuries. Gemini, which has previously carried out genetic studies on thousands of sets of twins, hopes to use Newfoundland's genetic heritage to identify genes involved in disease.
Unlike the controversial Icelandic database planned by deCODE genetics, Gemini will not have access to the medical records of everyone living in the province. The company has agreed to pay royalties on any commercial developments from its database to a foundation for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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Sale of the century