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Who stole the DNA of 14,000 long-lived Italians?

Engadget Engadget 16/09/2016 Daniel Cooper
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Italian authorities are investigating a biotechnology heist that saw around 14,000 DNA samples allegedly stolen from a lab in Sardinia. This may not be a simple case of grand larceny, as the samples in question were taken from Italians with exceptionally long lives. Sardinia is one of a handful of "blue zones" with a higher-than-usual proportion of men over the age of 100. The material was gathered as part of a decades-long research investigation into a genetic secret for longevity that was unrelated to diet or environmental factors.

The DNA was originally harvested by a publicly-owned lab, Pardo Genetico, which was recently sold off to a Sardinian called Piergiorgio Lorrai. According to the Guardian, Lorrai is a local who wanted to ensure that the genetic information of his countrymen and women weren't exploited for commercial gain. But it's not that simple, because through a convoluted series of corporate shenanigans, another company believes it's the repository's rightful owner.

Of course, that's less relevant now since the samples have disappeared, and prosecutor Biagio Mazzeo is implying that it might have been an inside job. Analysis of the crime scene reveals that there was no forced entry, although it's not clear when exactly the alleged theft took place. Perhaps someone's planning to develop a theme park around clones of centenarians on a Pacific island, John Hammond-style. Or maybe the stuff was grabbed by a sinister billionaire with an interest in living forever, not that we could name any.

Guardian

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