Scientists in Iceland have produced an unprecedented snapshot of a nation’s genetic makeup, discovering a host of previously unknown gene mutations that may play roles in ailments as diverse as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and gallstones. In a series of papers published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers at Decode, an Icelandic genetics firm owned by Amgen, described sequencing the genomes — the complete DNA — of 2,636 Icelanders, the largest collection ever analyzed in a single human population.
With this trove of genetic information, the scientists were able to accurately infer the genomes of more than 100,000 other Icelanders, or almost a third of the entire country. While many researchers are trying to treat heart disease by targeting cholesterol levels, this new mutation seems to affect heart disease through a different route.
Dr. Harper said that he expected many more insights from the DNA of Icelanders.