Sardinians Feud Over DNA 'Secret to Longevity'

Prosecutors seize 14K samples
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2016 9:59 PM CDT
Sardinians Feud Over DNA 'Secret to Longevity'
Sardinians are up to 50 times more likely to reach the age of 100 than Americans.   (Wikimedia Commons/lostaiy)

Does the secret of longevity lie in the DNA of elderly Sardinians? Researchers think it might, which has led to confusion and feuding over a "biobank" that includes around 14,000 DNA samples from residents of an eastern region of the Italian island, where people lead exceptionally long lives, the Guardian reports. When a lab employee reported the samples missing last month, prosecutors initially believed the samples had been stolen, but it later emerged that the samples had been transferred to a hospital, apparently at the request of a geneticist from a firm that sold the samples along with a database of Sardinians' personal histories after filing for bankruptcy, Tiscali reports.

British biotech group Tiziana Life Science says it acquired the samples from Shardna for around $290,000, though the Sardinian owner of a publicly funded third company, Parco Genetico, told the Guardian that the samples belonged to his firm—and he planned to stop foreign companies from exploiting residents' DNA. Many Sardinians say they donated DNA samples to science but never agreed to have it used by companies seeking profits. L'Unione Sarda reports that for now, authorities have seized the 14,000 DNA samples while they investigate their ownership—along with the broader issue of private ownership of Sardinians' personal data. (Researchers say living near greenery appears to help women live longer.)

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