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DeCODE, Interleukin Genetics Announce Pharmacogenomics Strides

NEW YORK, Nov. 7 — Two genomics companies separately on Wednesday announced strides forward in identifying disease-linked genes. 

Iceland’s deCODE genetics said it had filed patent applications on 350 genes discovered through its population genomics database, and Interleukin Genetics, of Waltham, Mass., said it has discovered 89 novel SNPs not previously identified in public databases.

DeCODE has already isolated genes linked to peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, schizophrenia, macular degeneration, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis, and holds four gene patents.  

The company, based in Reykjavik, currently has two agreements with Swiss drugs group Roche to locate disease-related genes for drug discovery and to develop DNA-based diagnostic tools. 

This set of applications represents a qualitative leap forward for the company, according to deCODE. These filings, unlike the company’s previous couple of dozen, emerge from applications of its clinical genome mining tool. 

The company is now building a portfolio of genes for in-house drug discovery, and will also license some newly identified targets to other pharmaceutical companies. DeCODE studies potential drug-related classes including GCPRs, kinases, proteases, ion channels, nuclear receptors, and transglutamenases.

Pharmacogenomics company Interleukin Genetics, meanwhile, announced that it had finished the first phase of its inflammatory gene SNP-discovery project, and has discovered 89 novel SNPs not previously identified in public databases. 

The company seeks to determine the genetic factors that underlie inflammatory responses to injury and disease. It has so far focused on genes related to interleukin-1 and the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. 

Interleukin Genetics currently holds patents on genes relating to severe sepsis, heart attack, and asthma, and markets a kit that can assess risk of periodontal disease, also based on its genetic studies. 

The company plans to launch a database of inflammation-related genes in early 2002, it said.