April 6, 2008 – Scientists at deCODE genetics have identified 27 regions in the human genome that affect adult height. These variants, which are published today in the online edition of Nature Genetics, together explain an estimated 4% percent of the normal population variation in height. Not surprisingly, a number of the sequence variants are located close to genes that encode proteins involved in skeletal development, though 26 of the 27 variants are novel. The findings support the results of previous studies that have suggested that genetic differences in height result principally from their effect on local regulation of the growth of long bones, rather than on broader, systemic processes.

The study analyzed more than 300,000 genetic markers across the genomes of more than 25,000 Icelanders, 2,876 Dutch, 1,770 Americans of European descent, and 1,148 Americans of African descent, and was confirmed in a cohort of some 5,500 Danes. The paper, ‘Many sequence variants affecting diversity of adult human height,’ is available at www.nature.com/genetics, and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

“Normal variation in adult height is a typical complex trait, involving genetic, hormonal, environmental and nutritional factors. In this study we have made a good start at understanding the genetic factors that underpin this variability, but this is only the beginning,” said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE.

About deCODE

deCODE is a biopharmaceutical company applying its discoveries in human genetics to the development of drugs and diagnostics for common diseases. deCODE is a global leader in gene discovery — our population approach and resources have enabled us to isolate key genes contributing to major public health challenges from cardiovascular disease to cancer, genes that are providing us with drug targets rooted in the basic biology of disease. deCODE is also leveraging its expertise in human genetics and integrated drug discovery and development capabilities to offer innovative products and services in DNA-based diagnostics, bioinformatics, genotyping, structural biology, drug discovery and clinical development. deCODE is delivering on the promise of the new genetics.SM Visit us on the web at www.decode.com; on our diagnostics website at www.decodediagnostics.com; and, for our pioneering personal genome analysis service, at www.decodeme.com.