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Decode Shares Rise on Prostate Cancer Findings

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Decode Genetics shares were up nearly 11 percent in mid-afternoon trading to $.61 each, following the company's publication yesterday in the advance, online edition of Nature Genetics, reporting that it has identified four new genetic variants associated with prostate cancer risk.

Researchers from Decode, along with collaborators from the US, Finland, Spain, and the Netherlands, used genotyping, fine mapping, and targeted Illumina re-sequencing to evaluate more than 60,000 individuals of European descent from six different groups.

Their search in the Icelandic group turned up four previously unidentified SNPs linked to prostate cancer: one associated SNP on chromosome 3, two moderately associated SNPs on chromosome 8, and a fourth associated SNP on chromosome 19. Each was subsequently validated in at least two of the five other cohorts.

The team also refined their risk estimates for a previously identified prostate cancer risk SNP located on chromosome 11.

Based on their population-level analysis of 22 prostate cancer risk variants in individuals from the Icelandic population, the researchers estimated that the risk variants identified so far can accurately identify men who have at least a 2.5-times higher risk of prostate cancer than normal or about a 30 percent lifetime risk of the disease.

"Using our ability to put these SNPs in a population-wide context, we show that it is now possible to identify those who are at more than 30 percent lifetime risk, independent of other standard risk factors such as age and family history," Decode CEO Kari Stefansson said in a statement. "By incorporating this new, personalized gauge of susceptibility into our arsenal for improving prevention and early diagnosis, we can more effectively and accurately identify those men who would benefit most from intensive screening."

Steffansson said Decode plans to incorporate the findings into its prostate cancer test. This is reportedly the sixth set of genetic risk factors for prostate cancer that Decode and its collaborators have identified.

Yesterday's paper was one of four publications identifying new prostate cancer associated genetic variants. The other studies, also appearing online in Nature Genetics, were led by investigators at the National Cancer Institute, the PRACTICAL consortium, and the University of Cambridge.

Decode's publication comes on the heels of a deficiency notice that it received from Nasdaq last week. The notice was issued for lack of compliance with Nasdaq's minimum bid price rule, following 30 consecutive days with shares below $1 apiece. Decode has until mid-March of next year to regain compliance. To do so, its shares will have to be over $1 for at least ten consecutive days before the March 15, 2010 deadline.

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