Genetic risk factor for type 2 diabetes revealed

A new genetic clue into the origins of type 2 diabetes has been discovered by an international team of researchers.

In the largest genetic study done to date in Mexican and Mexican-American populations, the team found a risk gene for type 2 diabetes. Individuals who carry the gene are 25 percent more likely to have diabetes than those who do not, the study found. Moreover, people who inherit two copies of the gene from both parents are 50 percent more likely to develop the blood sugar condition.

"To date, genetic studies have largely used samples from people of European or Asian ancestry, which makes it possible to miss culprit genes that are altered at different frequencies in other populations," said co-corresponding author José Florez, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant Physician in the Diabetes Unit and the Center for Human Genetic Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

The team found that the higher risk type of the gene is found in about 50 percent of people who have recent Native American ancestry - including Latin American genetics.

SLC16A11

The gene sequence is called SLC16A11, and its history dates back to Neanderthal times. It's also present in about 20 percent of East Asians, but it's rare in Europeans and Africans.

The researchers said the findings represent one of the most important advances in diabetes research ever made.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this work is that we've uncovered a new clue about the biology of diabetes," said co-senior author David Altshuler, deputy director and chief academic officer at the Broad Institute and a Harvard Medical School professor at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). "We are now hard at work trying to figure out what is being transported, how this influences triglyceride metabolism, and what steps lead to the development of type 2 diabetes."

Source: Science Daily
Image courtesy of dreamdesigns/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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