deCODE genetics and Roche announced today that scientists at
deCODE together with psychiatrists from the Icelandic healthcare system have
identified a gene linked to schizophrenia.
This discovery is the result of a genome-wide screen conducted with the
participation of 400 Icelandic schizophrenia patients and an equal number of
their unaffected family members. The study marks a crucial step towards
identifying susceptibility genes and understanding their function in this
Using deCODE's research results, Roche scientists are developing new
diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Approximately 0.5% to 1.0% of people worldwide will develop schizophrenia
during their lifetime. Its onset usually occurs in early adulthood and
affects its victims lifelong, exacting a heavy toll on both patients and their
families. Current therapies are limited in their effectiveness because of the
limited understanding of the biology and molecular pathology of the disease.
Finding specific disease-linked gene variants will lead to a better
understanding of the nature of schizophrenia, may provide pathologically
validated targets for better medicines, and may allow, based on predisposition
diagnostics, prevention of the illness.
Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE genetics, noted that "We are deeply
grateful to the Icelandic patients who participated in this study. Their
generosity and the expertise of deCODE scientists and of the physicians who
support our efforts have moved us one step closer to understanding the genetic
basis of schizophrenia."
Jonathan Knowles, Head of Global Research at Roche, remarked that "This is
a truly remarkable success for our alliance with deCODE. We are excited to
have access to what appears to be the first genetically-identified target for
developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches against this devastating
deCODE genetics (http://www.decode.com), based in Reykjavik, Iceland, is
conducting research into the inherited causes of common diseases. Through its
population-based approach and data-mining techniques, deCODE seeks to turn raw
genomics data into products and services for the healthcare industry.