Reykjavik, ICELAND, and Basel, SWITZERLAND, October 17, 2003 — deCODE genetics (Nasdaq/Nasdaq Europe:DCGN) and Roche Diagnostics today announced a landmark discovery under their alliance to develop DNA-based diagnostic tests for common diseases. deCODE scientists have identified forms of a gene that confer approximately twice the average risk of myocardial infarction, or heart attack. The companies plan to use this information in the development of a DNA-based test to identify individuals who are at elevated risk, thereby facilitating the implementation of preventive measures that can help minimize the risk of these individuals ever suffering a heart attack. deCODE receives a milestone payment from Roche for this discovery.
deCODE mapped the gene through a genome-wide linkage study involving a total of 2,000 patients and unaffected relatives from families across Iceland. The deCODE team then sequenced the gene and conducted an association analysis of patients and unrelated controls using more than 1,000 SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) within the locus. The two at-risk haplotypes, or forms of the gene, each delineated by only 6 SNPs, are both common and were found to confer significant risk of heart attack in the Icelandic population. These haplotypes confer risks equal to or greater than those conferred by other well-known risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
“This is a very important and exciting discovery and underscores once again the advantages of deCODE’s human genetics approach for discovering the major genetic risk factors for common diseases. By tracing how predisposition to myocardial infarction is inherited across the Icelandic population, we have pinpointed a major gene and a small number of genetic markers within that gene that define the increased risk,” said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE. “This is an important first step in empowering patients to minimize the health impact of a family history of heart attack. We are now working with our partners at Roche to validate and broaden our findings in diverse populations.”
“Roche has demonstrated a major commitment to discovering and using genetic markers to create new diagnostic tools to help doctors realize the promise of personalized healthcare,” said Heino von Prondzynski, head of Roche Diagnostics worldwide and member of the Roche Executive Committee. “Our goal is to provide actionable health information that enables doctors to help their patients take the necessary steps to minimize their heart attack risk. We plan to utilize the genetic risk factors discovered by deCODE, together with others we are researching, to develop a DNA-based myocardial infarction risk prediction test, complementing our existing portfolio of cholesterol and C-reactive protein cardiac risk prediction tests.”
deCODE is using population genetics to create a new paradigm for healthcare. With its uniquely comprehensive population data, deCODE is turning research on the genetic causes of common diseases into a growing range of products and services — in gene and drug discovery, DNA-based diagnostics, pharmacogenomics, bioinformatics, and clinical trials. deCODE’s pharmaceuticals group, based in Chicago, and deCODE’s biostructures group, based in Seattle, conduct downstream development work on targets derived from deCODE’s proprietary research in human genetics as well as contract service work for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. deCODE is delivering on the promise of the new genetics.SM Visit us on the web at www.decode.com.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading innovation-driven healthcare groups. Its core businesses are pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is number one in the global diagnostics market, the leading supplier of pharmaceuticals for cancer and a leader in virology and transplantation. As a supplier of products and services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche employs roughly 65,000 people in 150 countries. The Group has alliances and R&D agreements with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai.
Roche’s Diagnostics Division, the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics with a uniquely broad product portfolio, supplies a wide array of innovative testing products and services to researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories world-wide. For further information, please visit Roche’s websites www.roche.com and www.roche-diagnostics.com.
Any statements contained in this presentation that relate to future plans, events or performance are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among others, those relating to technology and product development, integration of acquired businesses, market acceptance, government regulation and regulatory approval processes, intellectual property rights and litigation, dependence on collaborative relationships, ability to obtain financing, competitive products, industry trends and other risks identified in deCODE’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. deCODE undertakes no obligation to update or alter these forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.