An international team of scientists announces that it recently managed to identify 10 more genes involved in the development of type II diabetes. The discovery brings the total number of genes known to be involved with promoting this condition to 60+.
The ultimate goal of such investigations is to paint a clear image of how genetics and biological processes interact inside the human body to promote this type of diabetes. Several clear patterns are already beginning to emerge, investigators say.
For the new study, the team used a new DNA-analysis chip, which they say is capable of discovering genetic variations that are common in type II diabetes patients, but are lacking in healthy individuals.
The investigation was led by scientists from the University of Oxford, the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute, and the University of Michigan
(U-M) School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics.
The U-M team was led by the Richard G Cornell Distinguished university professor of biostatistics, Michael Boehnke, Other members included the Felix Moore collegiate professor of biostatistics, Goncalo Abecasis, and assistant professor of biostatistics Hyun Min Kan, among others.
“The paper, in identifying 10 new gene regions as playing a role in type II diabetes risk, adds to our understanding of the basic biology of type II diabetes. For example, our findings suggest that hundreds of common genetic variants contribute to type ii diabetes risk,” Boehnke explains.
“These new gene regions provide additional targets for possible drug development and more specific tailoring for diabetes therapies,” the U-M investigator goes on to say. According to official statistics, around 8.3 percent of the US population, 25.8 million people, suffers from diabetes.
The condition is a major risk factor for other diseases, including stroke, blindness, nerve damage, heart diseases and obesity. In the United States, an additional 79 million people are considered to be pre-diabetic, which means that they could develop the condition at any time.
For the new investigation, the team analyzed DNA samples from 35,000 people diagnosed with type II diabetes, and around 115,000 healthy individuals. Full details of the work were published in the latest issue of the top journal Nature Genetics.
“We want to understand exactly which genes and which variants within those genes cause someone to be more or less susceptible to type 2 diabetes,” explains U-M research fellow, Tanya M. Teslovich.
“In parallel, we are performing sequencing in additional individuals to identify new loci and rare variants. Finally, it's important to study these genes in the laboratory, in cell culture and in model organisms to understand their biology,” she concludes.