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More diabetes genes found

UK researchers in international study find 12 new genes linked to type 2 diabetes
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
doctor and female patient

28th June 2010 - An international consortium of scientists from across the UK, Europe, US and Canada have found 12 more genes linked to type 2 diabetes. 11 of these influence insulin production or the effect of insulin.

The largest study of its kind compared the DNA of over 8,000 people with type 2 diabetes with almost 40,000 people without the condition.

The study checked the DNA against nearly 2.5 million locations across the human genome. They then checked the genetic variations they found in another group including over 34,000 people with diabetes and almost 60,000 controls.

Altogether, 38 genetic risk factors are now known to affect type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes UK says there are 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and more than half a million more who have the condition but don’t know it.

Greater understanding

"Once we know the exact causes of type 2 diabetes, we can develop more effective prevention and therapy strategies,” says D. Thomas Illig, research group leader at the Institute of Epidemiology of Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich.

Dr. Christian Herder and Dr. Wolfgang Rathmann, research group leaders at the German Diabetes Centre, add: "One important finding of the new study is that some of the gene loci associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk are also risk variants for other diseases such as coronary heart disease, autoimmune diseases and cancer. This suggests that specific proteins could be relevant for several diseases at the same time."

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, says in a statement: "This is strong research and adds to our knowledge of the genes that increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. As we continue to add more pieces to the jigsaw, our greater understanding of the genetics behind Type 2 diabetes could lead to new avenues of research into prevention and improving treatments.

"It is important to remember that Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to being overweight or obese. If we can tackle obesity then we can make real in-roads to fighting Type 2 diabetes and reducing the number of people developing the condition."

The research is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Reviewed on June 28, 2010

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