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DeCode Identifies Schizophrenia Gene, Shares Jump

NEW YORK, Oct 20 – DeCode Genetics and Hoffman-La Roche said Friday DeCode had located a gene linked to schizophrenia, sending shares of the Icelandic company up more than seven percent on the Nasdaq.

DeCode scientists discovered the gene by working with psychiatrists from the Icelandic healthcare system to screen the genomes of 400 Icelandic schizophrenia patients as well as unaffected family members.

The scientists are now screening the gene for various mutations and plan to publish their findings within the next several months, DeCode spokesman Edward Farmer said. At present, DeCode will not reveal the chromosomal location of the gene or any specific information about its nature.

Roche, which began a five-year collaboration with DeCode in early 1998 to find genes for 12 common diseases, is already using the information from DeCode’s analysis to develop diagnostic tools and drugs for schizophrenia, Roche spokeswoman Katja Prowald said.

DeCode has received an undisclosed milestone payment from Roche for part of this accomplishment.

Roche is confident that these results will apply to the broader population affected by schizophrenia. “Our research has shown that the results from the studies done by DeCode are very representative and are not specific for the Icelandic population only,” said Prowald.

Shares of DeCode were up 1 5/16, or 7.3 percent, at 19 5/16 in afternoon trading.

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