March 29, 2000

Roche announced today that scientists at deCODE genetics, based in Reykjavik, Iceland, have reached an important milestone in their collaborative research on the genetics of common forms of stroke by successfully mapping a gene that contributes to the risk of suffering a stroke.

The study at deCODE represents the first genome-wide screen in humans for gene variants contributing to the most common forms of stroke that has yielded positive results. The research was initiated in February 1998 and is a part of a five-year collaboration between deCODE and Roche covering 12 common diseases. Nearly 1200 stroke patients and their relatives were studied.

Stroke is a major health problem around the world. In industrialized countries it represents the third-leading cause of death and the major cause of long-term disability. The identification of gene variants contributing to stroke is expected to help elucidate the mechanisms causing this affliction, and will ultimately facilitate both better prediction and early intervention or prevention.

Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE genetics noted, “This shows that the heritage of the Icelandic people, its extensive genealogy, carefully recorded over the past 11 centuries, can help map genes for even the most complex diseases.”

Jonathan Knowles, Roche’s Head of global research adds, “ This is another important milestone successfully reached in our efforts to map the location of disease-contributing genes. We eagerly await its actual identification and expect this to accelerate our diagnostic and drug development efforts in this indication.”

In March 1999, deCODE and Roche had announced the mapping of a region where a gene contributing to osteoarthritis is located.

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-oriented healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, vitamins, and fragrances and flavours. Roche’s products and services address prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, thus enhancing people’s well-being and quality of life.