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deCODE Discovers Second Common Genetic Risk Factor for Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke
Date:7/13/2009

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, July 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Scientists at deCODE genetics (Nasdaq: DCGN) and colleagues from Europe and the United States today report the discovery of a common single-letter variant in the sequence of the human genome (SNP) conferring increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke. The findings will be integrated directly into the deCODE AF(TM) reference laboratory test for gauging individual risk of AF and stroke and helping to identify stroke patients who may benefit from enhanced monitoring for AF. The study is published online today in Nature Genetics at http://www.nature.com/ng.

The new SNP is in the ZFHX3 gene on chromosome 16q22, and the more than one third of people of European descent who carry one copy are at approximately 20% greater risk of AF and cardioembolic stroke than are individuals who carry none. AF is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, and is a major risk factor for stroke. Because AF is often intermittent and difficult to detect, gauging genetic susceptibility can help doctors to decide which of their stroke patients might benefit from longer-term monitoring for AF following a stroke. Those with stroke due to AF may be given different therapy than they would otherwise. This is the purpose of deCODE AF(TM), at the heart of which is the major AF and stroke variant discovered by deCODE on 4q25. Indeed today's findings are the result of deCODE's program to build on this work and to find new risk variants. After expanding their genome-wide association study in Iceland, the deCODE team took the top SNPs outside the 4q25 region and typed them in case-control cohorts from Iceland, Norway and the United States. This confirmed the ZFHX3 SNP as a risk variant for AF. Analysis in stroke cohorts from Iceland, Germany, Sweden and the UK demonstrated that this SNP was associated with increased risk of stroke, particularly cardioembolic stroke.

"This is an important discovery and all the more gratifying because we can integrate it straight into a test that is already helping to improve patient care in the clinic.

As with our 4q25 variant, this latest discovery has been replicated in numerous populations by us and others, and the connection to cardioembolic stroke is yet further evidence that we are putting our finger on an important pathway involved in AF and stroke risk. The ability to routinely test for these risk factors means that we can understand whom we should screen intensively for AF and then prescribe the drugs most suited to the cause of a particular patient's disease. This is the sort of personalized medicine that genetics is enabling - individualized care that may mean not only better outcomes but significant potential savings to the healthcare system. Discoveries like this are the foundation upon which this transformation is being made," said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE.

deCODE and the authors wish to thank the participants who took part in this study and made it possible. Financial support for this study was provided by US National Institutes of Health grants HL075266 and U01 HL65962 and American Heart Association grant 0940116N; by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01GI9909/3), by the German Migraine & Headache Society (DMKG), and by unrestricted grants of equal share from Astra Zeneca, Berlin Chemie, Boots Healthcare, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, McNeil Pharma, MSD Sharp & Dohme and Pfizer to the University of Muenster.

About deCODE

deCODE is a bio-pharmaceutical company developing DNA-based tests and drugs to improve the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of common diseases. 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 offers deCODE T2(TM) for type 2 diabetes; deCODE AF(TM) for atrial fibrillation and stroke; deCODE MI(TM) for heart attack; deCODE ProstateCancer(TM) for prostate cancer; deCODE Glaucoma(TM) for a major type of glaucoma; and deCODE BreastCancer, for the common forms of breast cancer. 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 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 and new focused disease scans, integrating the genetic variants included in these tests and those linked to another twenty common diseases, as well as for our new deCODEme Cardio(TM) and deCODEme Cancer(TM) scans, 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 sufficient financing to continue as a going concern, 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, our ability to form collaborative relationships, 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:

    deCODE genetics
    Edward Farmer
    +44-7796-010107
    edward.farmer@decode.is

    Gisli Arnason
    +354-570-1900
    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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