Thousands of DNA samples from Sardinians have gone missing from an Italian lab, the Guardian reports.
The samples had been collected to study longevity among long-lived residents of eastern Sardinia, but had since become mired in questions of ownership, the Guardian adds. The Italian prosecutor handling the case says the samples belonged to the publicly funded company Parco Genetico, which had worked closely with the private company Shardna. Shardna filed for bankruptcy and the British biotech company Tiziana Life Sciences bought its assets — including, it says, the DNA samples. This purchase angered a number of Sardinians, as they said they'd agreed to donate their DNA for research, and not to a pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, a Sardinian, Piergiorgio Lorrai, bought Parco Genetico, in part, he tells the Guardian, to protect the DNA samples and the Sardinians who gave them.
But some 14,000 samples went missing from the lab in Perdasdefogu; their loss was discovered in August, but it's unclear when they were removed from the lab, according to the Guardian. Other blood samples were left behind. The prosecutor adds that there were no signs of force entry, suggesting that someone with access to the lab took them.