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Multinational deCODE Study Identifies New Link Between Inflammation and Heart Attack

February 9, 2009

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, February 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — In a paper
published today, scientists at deCODE genetics (Nasdaq:DCGN) and academic
colleagues from four continents present a novel insight into the connection
between inflammation and heart disease. Through a genome-wide search in some
10,000 Icelanders, the deCODE team discovered several common single-letter
variations in the sequence of the human genome (SNPs) that increase levels of
eosinophils in the bloodstream. These are a type of white blood cell that
fights parasite infection and mediates inflammation. One of these SNPs,
located on chromsome 12q24, was then shown to confer increased risk of heart
attack through analysis of the genomes of more than 46,000 patients and
controls from Iceland, New Zealand, Italy, and the United States. Given the
established role of eosinophils in asthma, the deCODE team also analyzed the
eosinophil SNPs in more than 50,000 asthmatics and healthy control subjects
from the countries above as well as from Germany, Sweden, Australia, and
South Korea. A SNP on chromosome 2q12 was associated with increased risk of
asthma, and three other SNPs were associated with risk of atopic asthma.

“This is a great example of how our population data and approach enable
us to examine complex questions from multiple vantage points. There is broad
interest in the connection between inflammation and cardiovascular disease,
and our own discoveries on chromosome 9p21 and in the leukotriene pathway
have helped to drive this interest. And in today’s work, we started by
identifying genetic variants involved in a known inflammatory process and
then went on to demonstrate that some of those variants were also risk
factors for both heart attack and asthma. These discoveries may be used both
in drug discovery and to build out our tools for DNA-based risk assessment of
these diseases. We are already integrating these findings into our
deCODEme(TM) scans,” said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE and senior author on
the study.

The SNP on chromosome 12q24 associated with heart attack risk is in the
SH2B3 gene (also known as LNK), which encodes the SH2B3 protein. This protein
is known to be involved in inflammation, as well as in hematopoiesis, that is
the formation and development of blood cells. The paper, “Sequence variants
associated with eosoniphil numbers associate with asthma and myocardial
infarction,” is published today in the online edition of Nature Genetics, at
http://www.nature.com/ng.

deCODE would like to thank the many thousands of participants and the
large group of collaborating scientists and clinicians who took part in this
study. The genotyping in the myocardial infarction study was supported in
part by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute (SR01HL089650-01).

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
ProstateCancer(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 and new Cardio and Cancer scans, 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 effects of
the transfer of our common stock from the Nasdaq Global Market to the Nasdaq
Capital Market and the potential delisting of our common stock from the
Nasdaq Capital Market, 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

SOURCE deCODE genetics Inc


Source: newswire