London: In a breakthrough, scientists have identified seven new genetic regions associated with type 2 diabetes.
The genome-wide association study looked at more than 3 million DNA variants to identify those that have a measurable impact on risk of type 2 diabetes.
By combining DNA data from many several individuals, scientists were able to detect, for the first time, regions where the effects on diabetes susceptibility are rather subtle.
“Although the genetic effects may be small, each signal tells us something new about the biology of the disease,” said Anubha Mahajan of Oxford University.
These findings may lead us to new ways of thinking about the disease, with the aim ultimately of developing novel therapies to treat and prevent diabetes, she added.
“One of the striking features of these data is how much of the genetic variation that influences diabetes is shared between major ethnic groups,” said Mark McCarthy from Oxford.
“This has allowed us to combine data from more than 50 studies from across the globe to discover new genetic regions affecting risk of diabetes,” he explained.
The findings of this study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, can also be relevant to other common human diseases.
“By combining genetic data from different ethnic groups, we would expect also to be able identify new DNA variants influencing risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer, for example, which are shared across ethnic groups,” said McCarthy.
Funding came from multiple sources, including the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the US National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.