Reykjavik, Iceland, March 26, 1999 — deCODE genetics and Roche announced today that scientists at deCODE have successfully mapped a gene linked to osteoarthritis to an area on a human chromosome. This finding will focus further efforts aimed at identifying this gene and characterizing the mechanism by which it contributes to the disease. With this information, Roche plans to develop diagnostic tools and to initiate a drug discovery program with the goal of creating specific therapies to prevent or treat this chronic disease. Based on this achievement, Roche will make an undisclosed milestone payment to deCODE.
This localization of a disease-associated gene is the first publicly announced result of Roche’s collaboration with deCODE. Initiated in February 1998, and covering up to 12 common diseases, the five-year collaboration is focusing on the discovery of gene variants that predispose and/or contribute to the development of these diseases, with a major emphasis on six of them. They include cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric, inflammatory, and endocrine-metabolic disorders.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common joint diseases. Frequently leading to serious disability, the disorder affects worldwide more than 40 million people. The painful, degenerative process of bone destruction is a major cause of longtime suffering and the leading indication for prosthetic knee and hip replacement surgery.
“deCODE has made astounding progress in the first year of our collaboration—in all cases exceeding our expectations. We are convinced that the important discovery in osteoarthritis moves us further along in finding new therapeutics and diagnostics for this devastating disease,” said Jonathan Knowles, President of World-wide Research and Development at Roche. Added Dr. Klaus Lindpaintner, head of Genomics at Roche: “This relationship is enabling Roche to rapidly gain an understanding of the molecular basis of many diseases. The results achieved to date are creating a lot of excitement within Roche and may put us on the path to elucidating disease mechanisms.”
Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE genetics commented: “We have been extraordinarily pleased with our working relationship with Roche. The results we have achieved are very significant, particularly in osteoarthritis. These results further establish our leadership role in deciphering the genetics of complex diseases.
deCODE’s population based approach will allow us to continue to deliver breakthrough results.” Jeff Gulcher, deCODE’s VP of Research and Development, added: “deCODE will continue to deliver important findings to Roche to aid in their drug development and diagnostic efforts. This demonstrates how important knowledge about human disease can come from a close partnership among deCODE, Icelandic physicians, and the Icelandic population.”
Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, deCODE genetics, Inc. is a population-based genomics company that conducts research on the genetics of common diseases. The mission of deCODE genetics is to use human genetics and genomics to acquire new knowledge about health and disease. deCODE operates one of the most technologically advanced, high-throughput genotyping laboratories in the world.
Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. is a leading research-intensive pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets numerous important prescription drugs that improve, prolong and save lives of patients with serious illnesses. Among the company’s areas of therapeutic interest are virology, including HIV and AIDS, infectious diseases, cardiology, oncology, transplantation, dermatology, and obesity.