Seven New Genetic Regions for Type 2 Diabetes Found
One of the most frustrating aspects about diabetes of all varieties—type one, type two, and other less-know varieties—is that doctors don’t seem to have a clear answer for why the disease happens. While there has been a great deal of progress on discovering the origins of type 1 diabetes, with some genetic information and environmental information known, type 2 diabetes causes have proven elusive. While doctors have known that there are links to obesity and other factors, there are also individuals with the disease who don’t fit those criteria.
A recently-released study may provide some additional answers, which could help to make the lives of diabetics easier. Many with type 2 diabetes do not have to use products like the Easytouch insulin syringe, as their medications are for increasing insulin sensitivity; however, they do still have to manage their blood glucose levels, monitoring them with the help of Freestyle lancets or True Track strips. Diabetes is an expensive, life-long disease, requiring a number of diabetic accessories. A better understanding could lead to fewer cases and better treatment options.
A large, international consortium comprising researchers from 20 countries on four continents came together for the largest study ever to examine the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes. The study, which was published in Nature Genetics, brought together results from 50 studies from around the world. The investigators looked at over 2 million DNA variants across the whole genome, using data from over 48,000 patients and 139,000 healthy controls from four ethnic groups: European, east Asian, south Asian, and Mexican and Mexican American ancestry.
The study’s first author, Dr. Anubha Mahajan, said of the findings, “Although the genetic effects may be small, each signal tells us something new about the biology of the disease.” Two of the regions the researchers identified lie near the genes ARL15 and RREB1, which are known to be associated with abnormal levels of insulin and glucose in the body. In total, the scientists involved in the study found seven new genetic regions that lead to increased risk; patients who develop diabetes go on to have to continue monitoring their blood sugar levels with products such as True Track strips or Freestyle lancets, and while only some must inject insulin—for example with an Easytouch insulin syringe—many have to take other medications. One of the hopes of the researchers is that the study will pave the way for new medications.
The study was unusual not only because of the large sample size, but because of the variety of ethnicities used in the data; most studies of diabetes have focused on patients and control groups of European descent, while recent statistics have shown that Latin American and many Asian populations may actually be at a higher risk. By comparing genetics across different ethnicities, and finding parallels, the researchers may be much closer to truly understanding the disease that leads to so many purchases of Freestyle lancets and True Track test strips, along with Easytouch insulin syringes. With more insight into the data they’ve collected, researchers hope to develop better prevention as well as better treatment options—something all diabetics can agree would be a positive.