Posted: 07/28/2016

New Study Helps Map Genetics that Can Lead to Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes_type_2_gene_concept

People often ask if type 2 diabetes is genetic or caused by insufficient diet and exercise. The answer is it could be caused by both. In an effort to map the role of genetics in the development of type 2 diabetes, scientists from around the globe analyzed genomes of over 100,000 individuals from every inhabited continent. The purpose of the research was to gain insight into how genetic factors contribute to this disease in order to help develop new preventive and treatment approaches. In addition, it is believed the data collected will enable more personal and targeted treatment.

Type 2 diabetes can be caused by genetics, problems with diet and exercise, or a combination of the two. A need for customized strategies has evolved to address the complexities of a disease that directly or indirectly affects 10% of the world’s population. Currently, type 2 diabetes treatments entail a combination of dietary control, exercise, and diabetes medications such as Tradjenta or Lantus, which are taken orally or through injection and help control blood sugar levels.


Tradjenta Diabetes Medication Pill

A Unique Approach
While earlier studies into whether type 2 diabetes is hereditary exist, they differ from this current effort in that they examine common DNA differences but rarely, if ever, look at specific genes or changes in DNA sequencing. As such, little viable information exists as to where the risk lies. 

This new study delves into DNA and sequence changes in significantly greater depth, comparing gene variations among those who have type 2 diabetes and those who do not, and expanding the scope of the work to include not only common and shared differences among participants, but rare individual differences as well. Surprisingly, while researchers thought the rare changes, which are localized to individuals and their ancestry, would have the greatest impact, it was the shared and common differences that enhanced the risk.

A New Perspective on Treatment Evolves
However, more than a dozen protein-altering risk genes for type 2 diabetes, such as the TM6SF2 gene (which is thought to alter the amount of fat stored in the liver), were identified and tied directly to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The impact of this work pushes the boundaries of drug development further by creating a new target. By examining the genetic profiles of each individual, as well as monitoring the non-genetic and environmental factors, a more individualized approach to treatment can be employed. The study of the relationship between type 2 diabetes and genetics could perhaps alter treatment to the point where it is possible to keep the disease from developing. 

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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