The Swiss healthcare group, Roche, and Iceland's deCODE Genetics say they have mapped two genes linked to obesity and clinical anxiety. The discovery was made possible by Iceland's comprehensive health records, which enable the firms to study the population's gene pool.
Announcing the discovery, the two firms said the genes would prove invaluable in the search for a cure or a way of preventing the two disorders.
One out of four adults in Europe and the United States is overweight, as are increasing ranks of children, the companies said. They stressed, though, that although genetics does play a role, poor diet and lack of exercise also contribute to obesity, which is a leading risk factor in several diseases.
Anxiety disorders which -- unlike everyday worries -- cause irrational and debilitating fear are the most common forms of mental illness in industrialised countries. They include panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders and general anxiety disorders.
The two firms have an accord to develop new drugs aided by deCODE's access to Iceland's health records, which let it study genetic variations in the country's relatively isolated gene pool, which may give clues to the origins of disease.
The latest discoveries mean deCODE qualifies for milestone payments under the collaboration accord, they said.
swissinfo with agencies