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deCODE Discovery Sheds Light on Risk of the Most Common Form of Skin Cancer

Latest discoveries add to understanding of individual risk of basal cell carcinoma, and are integrated into the deCODEme(TM) personal genome analysis scan

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Scientists at deCODE genetics (Nasdaq: DCGN) today report the discovery of common versions of two single-letter variations in the human genome (SNPs) that confer risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common cancer among people of European ancestry. Unlike the four sets of SNPs previously found by deCODE to confer risk of BCC and cutaneous melanoma, those reported today are not linked to fair pigmentation traits that also make certain people prone to freckling and sunburn. These SNPs, both located on chromosome 1, may therefore provide new insight into an underlying biological mechanism causing BCC, independent of the impact of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. Approximately 2% of people of European descent carry two copies of the risk versions of both SNPs, and are at a 170% greater risk of BCC than those who do not carry the risk variants. The paper, entitled 'Common variants on 1p36 and 1q42 are associated with cutaneous basal cell carcinoma but not with melanoma or pigrmentation traits,' appears today in the online edition of Nature Genetics at

"With this discovery we continue to build our portfolio of novel risk factors for common skin cancers, diseases that cause significant morbidity and that are on the rise in the industrialized world. Once again we have used our capabilities in human genetics to gain a new understanding of the root causes of a major disease, that appear to act independently of known environmental risk factors. These two SNPs can also be used to enable individuals to better understand their own susceptibility to BCC and thus to take measures to lower their environmental and overall risk, and we are pleased to have added them already to our deCODEme(TM) service," said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE and senior author of the study.

The SNPs were discovered through the analysis of more than 300,000 SNPs across the genomes of more than 900 Icelanders with BCC and more than 33,000 control subjects. The SNPs most strongly correlated with BCC were then validated through the analysis of additional Icelandic and Eastern European cohorts of approximately 4,000 cases and controls. The deCODE team then analyzed data from more than 42,000 individuals from Iceland, Sweden and Spain to demonstrate that these novel variants conferring risk of BCC do not correlate with either fair pigmentation or with risk of cutaneous melanoma. The SNPs reported today thus appear to confer risk independently of that of variants in or near the MC1R, ASIP, TYR and TYRP1 genes that deCODE has reported in earlier studies.

About deCODE

deCODE is a biopharmaceutical company applying its discoveries in human genetics to the development of diagnostics and drugs 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. Through its CLIA-registered laboratory, deCODE is offering a growing range of DNA-based tests for gauging risk and empowering prevention of common diseases, including deCODE T2(TM) for type 2 diabetes; deCODE AF(TM) for atrial fibrillation and stroke; deCODE MI(TM) for heart attack; deCODE ProCa(TM) for prostate cancer; deCODE Glaucoma(TM) for a major type of glaucoma; and deCODE BreastCancer(TM) for the common forms of breast cancer. deCODE is delivering on the promise of the new genetics.(SM) Visit us on the web at; on our diagnostics site at; for our pioneering personal genome analysis service, integrating the genetic variants included in these tests and those linked to another twenty common diseases, at; and on our blog at

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, and the timing of events, to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among others, those relating to our ability to obtain financing and to form collaborative relationships, uncertainty regarding potential future deterioration in the market for auction rate securities which could result in additional permanent impairment charges, our ability to develop and market diagnostic products, the level of third party reimbursement for our products, risks related to preclinical and clinical development of pharmaceutical products, including the identification of compounds and the completion of clinical trials, the effect of government regulation and the regulatory approval processes, market acceptance, our ability to obtain and protect intellectual property rights for our products, dependence on collaborative relationships, the effect of competitive products, industry trends and other risks identified in deCODE's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, the risk factors identified in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any updates to those risk factors filed from time to time in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q or Current Reports on Form 8-K. deCODE undertakes no obligation to update or alter these forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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