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Major deCODE-led Study Underscores Role of the Brain in Obesity
Date:12/14/2008

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, December 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In one of the largest studies of its kind, a multinational team led by scientists from deCODE genetics (Nasdaq: DCGN) today report the discovery of common variations at seven new sites in the human genome found to influence obesity. The study analyzed more than 300,000 single-letter variations (SNPs) across the genome of more than 30,000 people from Iceland, the Netherlands, and the United States, and confirmed the findings in data from more than 40,000 individuals from Denmark and the US-based GIANT Consortium. deCODE is incorporating the novel SNPs on chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 12 and 19 reported today in its deCODEme(TM) personal genome analysis service, and subscribers will receive an update to their personal profiles. The paper, entitled "Genome-wide association yields new sequence variants at seven loci that associate with measures of obesity," is published today in the online edition of Nature Genetics at http://www.nature.com/ng, and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

"This study essentially doubles in one fell swoop the number of known and replicated genetic factors contributing to obesity as a public health problem. And what we are seeing in obesity are a large number of common genetic risk factors with a relatively modest impact on disease. One of the most notable aspects of these discoveries is that most of these new risk factors are near genes that regulate processes in the brain. This suggests that as we work to develop better means of combating obesity, including using these discoveries as the first step in developing new drugs, we need to focus on the regulation of appetite at least as much as on the metabolic factors of how the body uses and stores energy," said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE and senior author on the paper.

"Today's findings also underscore our ability to employ our population-based resources and statistical knowhow in Iceland as a cornerstone of large-scale multinational collaborations to identify and replicate the inherited causes of the most complex phenotypes. These new variants may point to valuable new drug targets, and we are already integrating them into deCODEme.(TM) We look forward to expanding upon our productive collaboration with colleagues in the US and Europe to continue to increase our understanding of the biology that underlies obesity," Dr. Stefansson added.

About obesity and this study

Obesity results from the consumption of more calories than the body uses, and it represents a growing public health problem worldwide, particularly in industrialized countries. Obesity is a major risk factor for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, a range of cardiovascular conditions, and even some forms of cancer. One third of the population of the United States is now classified as obese, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around the world as many as 400 million people are obese.

Obesity is a quintessentially complex condition. Behavioral factors such as diet, eating habits and lack of exercise play a major role, but these interact with genetic factors that influence the regulation of appetite as well as how the body uses energy and stores it as fat. The aim of the study published today was to identify more of these genetic factors as a means of better understanding the biological processes that contribute to obesity. This information can be used to inform efforts to develop better means of combatting it. The discovery phase of the study published today correlated more than 300,000 SNPs with data on weight and body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure used to relate weight to height, calculated as an individual's weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared, and individuals with a BMI greater than 30 are defined as obese. The 43 SNPs identified in this first scan were then analyzed in 5,500 Danes and genotypic data from the 33,000 participants in the GIANT Consortium's research. This analysis yielded SNPs linked to overweight and obesity at seven regions of the genome not previously known to be involved in obesity; identified new SNPs at previously known obesity-linked sites in the genome; and confirmed and refined the impact on obesity of previously published SNPs at four other sites in the genome.

deCODE and the authors would like to thank the participants in this study, and to acknowledge the fruitful collaboration with the GIANT Consortium, which included data from this study in its own meta-analysis also published today. The research performed at deCODE was partly funded through the European Community's ENGAGE project, grant agreement HEALTH-F4-2007-201413. Support for the US research was provided by the US National Institutes of Health, and for the Danish research by the Lundbeck Foundation Centre of Applied Medical Genomics and the Danish Health Research Council.

About deCODE

deCODE is a bio-pharmaceutical company developing drugs and DNA-based tests to improve the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of common diseases. Its lead therapeutic programs, which leverage the company's expertise in chemistry and structural biology, include DG041, an antiplatelet compound being developed for the prevention of arterial thrombosis; DG051 and DG031, compounds targeting the leukotriene pathway for the prevention of heart attack; and DG071 and a platform for other PDE4 modulators with therapeutic applications in Alzheimer's disease and other conditions. deCODE is a global leader in human genetics, and has identified key variations in the genome (SNPs) conferring increased risk of major public health challenges from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Based upon these discoveries deCODE has brought to market a growing range of DNA-based tests for gauging risk and empowering prevention of common diseases. Through its CLIA-registered laboratory, deCODE is offers 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 http://www.decode.com; on our diagnostics site at http://www.decodediagnostics.com; for our pioneering personal genome analysis service, integrating the genetic variants included in these tests and those linked to another twenty common diseases, at http://www.decodeme.com; and on our blog at http://www.decodeyou.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, 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, the effect of a potential delisting of our common stock from The Nasdaq Global Market, uncertainty regarding potential future deterioration in the market for auction rate securities which could negatively affect our cash position and 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.

    Contacts:

    Edward Farmer
    +354-570-2819
    edward.farmer@decode.is

    Gisli Arnason
    +354-570-1825
    gisli.arnason@decode.is

    Joy Bessenger
    +1-212-481-3891
    joy.bessenger@decode.is



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SOURCE deCODE genetics Inc
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