London, An international team of researchers have discovered ten more DNA regions linked to type 2 diabetes, bringing the total to over 60.
The study provides a fuller picture of the genetics and biological processes underlying type 2 diabetes, with some clear patterns emerging.
The international team, led by researchers from the University of Oxford, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, used a new DNA chip to probe deeper into the genetic variations that commonly occur in our DNA and which may have some connection to type 2 diabetes.
“The ten gene regions we have shown to be associated with type 2 diabetes are taking us nearer a biological understanding of the disease,” said principal investigator Professor Mark McCarthy of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford.
“It is hard to come up with new drugs for diabetes without first having an understanding of which biological processes in the body to target. This work is taking us closer to that goal,” he stated.
The researchers analysed DNA from almost 35,000 people with type 2 diabetes and approximately 115,000 people without, identifying 10 new gene regions where DNA changes could be reliably linked to risk of the disease. Two of these showed different effects in men and women, one linked to greater diabetes risk in men and the other in women.
With over 60 genes and gene regions now linked to type 2 diabetes, the researchers were able to find patterns in the types of genes implicated in the disease. Although each individual gene variant has only a small influence on people’s overall risk of diabetes, the types of genes involved are giving new insight into the biology behind diabetes.
Professor McCarthy and colleagues’ next step is to get complete information about genetic changes driving type 2 diabetes by sequencing people’s DNA in full.
Their findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics.