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Important Discovery of Gene Involved in Breast and Prostate Cancer

  December, 20 2004 11:50
your information resource in human molecular genetics
SAN DIEGO, Dec 15, 2004 (PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX) -- The recent discovery of common genetic variations in intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) genes was announced today by SEQUENOM, Inc. and is believed to be among the most important findings in cancer genetics since the discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2. Published in the December 15, 2004 issue of Cancer Research, the study entitled "Large-scale association study identifies ICAM gene region as breast and prostate cancer susceptibility locus" reports that individuals with a deleterious version of the ICAM gene region have a 40% higher risk of developing breast or prostate cancer compared to those without it.

The data also demonstrated that the breast cancer risk increases to more than 300% in those females with a family history of breast cancer. Due to the high frequency of the variations in the general population, approximately 34% of individuals carry two copies of the deleterious version of this region and are at a higher risk of developing breast or prostate cancer in their lifetime. Originally discovered in a genome-wide search for genes involved in breast cancer, the researchers found that the variations associated with breast cancer risk also confer a similar risk of prostate cancer. These findings may lead to important diagnostic and prognostic applications. Further, since ICAMs are cell surface molecules, they have the potential to offer new therapeutic opportunities for both breast and prostate cancer, the most common cancers in women and men, respectively.

"While the role of ICAMs in the biology of tumor metastasis is well established, for the first time we understand that common genetic variations in the ICAM region predispose a significant portion of the population to higher cancer risk and a more aggressive disease progression. Significantly, ICAMs are also biologically valid targets for development of cancer drugs," stated Charles Cantor, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of SEQUENOM. "We expect to communicate additional research results, which will further support the ICAM genetic connection to cancer and metastasis risk in the near term. As cell surface molecules, therapeutic options for developing treatments that target ICAMs may include the use of monoclonal antibodies or conventional small molecules."

SEQUENOM's proprietary MassARRAY system and large collection of SNP reagents, designed to quickly and accurately perform high throughput genetic analysis, made the discovery of the ICAM genetic variations possible. The initial genome-wide breast cancer screen consisted of more than 500 German cases and controls. Subsequently, the findings were replicated in two independent samples of breast cancer cases and controls from Germany and Australia. More than 700 prostate cancer cases and controls were tested. This study represents an early example of the use of genome-wide, large-scale association studies to identify genes that impact common diseases. Such studies are expected to play an increasingly important role in the identification of common genetic risk factors.

"This is an exciting discovery for SEQUENOM as the utilization of this genetic content fits in with our strategic direction to develop important and innovative diagnostic applications for use with our MassARRAY system," said Toni Schuh, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of SEQUENOM. "We believe that the identification of the ICAM genetic variations and subsequent development of diagnostic tests have the potential to improve our understanding of cancer risk for millions of people. Hopefully, this will lead to the development of treatments based on the understanding of the genetic variations in the ICAM region."

Identifying genetic risk factors for common diseases represents an important application of SEQUENOM's MassARRAY technology. Originally developed as a genotyping platform, the continually expanding portfolio for the MassARRAY technology now includes microbial typing, mutation detection, gene expression profiling, genetic trace analysis and epigenetic analysis. SEQUENOM has used MassARRAY technology and the Company's extensive collections of DNA samples from diseased and healthy individuals to identify disease-related genes that affect the health of significant portions of the population. Based on its discoveries, the Company develops diagnostic content, as well as outlicenses candidate target genes for diagnostic and therapeutic product development.


SEQUENOM is committed to providing the best genetic analysis products that translate genomic science into superior solutions for biomedical research, molecular medicine and agricultural applications. The Company's proprietary MassARRAY system is a high-performance DNA analysis platform that efficiently and precisely measures the amount of genetic target material and variations therein. The system is able to deliver reliable and specific data from complex biological samples and from genetic target material that is only available in trace amounts.

SEQUENOM(R) and MassARRAY(R) are registered trademarks of SEQUENOM, Inc.

Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release, including statements related to this important diagnostic or prognostic applications that may result from the findings disclosed in the press release, the potential of ICAMs and the findings disclosed in the press release for offering new therapeutic opportunities for breast or prostate cancer, the development of cancer drugs, SEQUENOM's expectation to communicate additional research results which will further support the ICAM genetic connection to cancer and metastasis risk in the near term, the use of monoclonal antibodies or conventional small molecules for developing therapeutic treatments for ICAMs, the expectation that genome-wide, large-scale association studies will play an increasingly important role in the identification of common genetic risk factors, SEQUENOM's strategic direction to develop important and innovative diagnostic applications for use with the MassARRAY system, the development of diagnostic tests based upon ICAM genetic variations, the potential of the findings disclosed in the press release to improve the understanding of cancer risk for millions of people, and the development of treatments based on the understanding of the genetic variations in the ICAM region, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially, including the risks and uncertainties associated with the development and commercialization of any new technology, including SEQUENOM's technologies, and other risks detailed from time to time in SEQUENOM's SEC filings, including SEQUENOM's most recently filed Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2003. These forward-looking statements are based on current information that is likely to change and speak only as of the date hereof.


Amy Caterina, Investor Relations of SEQUENOM, Inc., 858-202-9033,acaterina@sequenom.com ; or Melissa Hill, 858-546-4810, or Lynn Rubenson, 858-546-4813, both of NoonanRusso, for SEQUENOM, Inc.


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