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New genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes identified

18 May, 2007  

In the most comprehensive look at genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes to date, researchers in the USA and Finland have identified at least four new genetic variants associated with increased risk of diabetes and confirmed existence of another six. In total, the genomes of 32,554 people from Finland, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the USA were tested.

The researchers were from the University of Michigan, the National Human Genome Research Institute, the University of Southern California, the University of North Carolina, and Finland’s National Health Institute. The findings have been published in the online edition of the journal Science.

“This achievement represents a major milestone in our battle against diabetes. It will accelerate efforts to understand the genetic risk factors for this disease, as well as explore how these genetic factors interact with each other and with lifestyle factors,” said National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A Zerhouni, MD.

These findings distinguish at least 10 genetic variants confidently associated with increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

“These genetic risk factors will make it more likely that we can predict who is at risk for the disease,” says Richard Bergman, PhD, the chair of the department of physiology and biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “We know type 2 takes a long time to develop and if we can identify those at risk of the disease, we may be able to prevent or delay the risk of disease in these people.”