Tuesday, January 2, 2001
Estonians are taking a page from Iceland's decision to commercialize genetic data from its in-bred population, deciding they also can supply the raw material for discovering disease-related genes. But Estonia believes that its out-bred population will make its genetic data more useful than that of Iceland's in-bred populace. And by declaring that no DNA samples can leave the country, Estonia hopes to build a local biotech industry by luring companies to locate there.
Estonia is hoping to bootstrap a biotechnology industry, and provide its citizens with access to personalized medicine in the future, with the formation of a gene bank that aims to contain genotypic and phenotypic data on some 70 percent of its 1.4 million citizens. To develop the database, an act of parliament is establishing the non-profit Estonian Gene Bank Foundation to intermediate between physicians collecting samples and medical information and