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The world’s largest independent biotechnology firm, Amgen, has entered an agreement to acquire Iceland’s deCODE Genetics for $415m.

With the acquisition, the firm hopes to identify and validate human disease targets.

Amgen president and CEO Robert Bradway said; "This capability will enhance our efforts to identify and validate human disease targets. This fits perfectly with our objective to pursue rapid development of relevant molecules that reach the right disease targets while avoiding investments in programs based on less well-validated targets."

Founded in 1996, deCode Genetics explores the link between genomes and disease susceptibility.

Over the years the company has discovered genetic risk factors for dozens of diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer.

In July this year, deCode reported in the journal Nature the discovery of a variant of the amyloid precursor protein gene that confers protection against both Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in the elderly.

deCode Genetics founder and CEO Kari Stefansson said; "One of the ways to truly realise the full value of human genetics, is to make our research synergistic with drug development efforts where target discovery, validation and prioritization efforts can be accelerated."

"We believe Amgen’s focus and ability to incorporate our genetic research into their research and development efforts will translate our discoveries into meaningful therapies for patients."

Image: One of the many buildings at Amgen headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California. Image: Courtesy of Coolcaesar.