The world's biggest biotech Amgen is buying Icelandic genetic research firm deCODE Genetics for $415 million.

The move will allow Amgen to utilise deCODE's capabilities in human genetics, boosting the firm's efforts to identify and validate disease targets, it said.

"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," explained Robert Bradway, the US firm's president and chief executive.

Since 1996, deCODE has been exploring the link between the genome and disease susceptibility, and through its work "has has discovered genetic risk factors for dozens of diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer".

From its point of view, the merger gives deCODE a better shot at translating its research into meaningful therapies for patients, given Amgen's considerable drug development muscle.

The all-cash transaction, which does not require regulatory clearance, was unanimously approved by the Amgen's Board of Directors, and is expected to complete by the end of the year.

Amgen has suffered a couple of research setbacks this year, including the failure of Sensipar in kidney disease and ganitumab in pancreatic cancer.