In a recent study, an international team of scientists shed light on how genes contribute to type 2 diabetes. The study results were published in the journal Nature Genetics. “Our findings are important because we are moving towards using genetic scores to assess them a person’s risk of developing diabetes,Co-author Cassandra Spracklen, associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, said.
Meta-analysis By DIAMANTE (Diabetes Meta-Analysis of Cross-Ethnic Association Studies), a group of 122 different genome-wide association studies (GWAS) co-led by Andrew Morris, Professor of Statistical Genetics at the University of Manchester, and Oxford Professors Mark McCarthy and Anupha Mahajan.
“Globalism Prevalence of type 2 diabetesa life-altering disease that has quadrupled in the past 30 years, affecting nearly 392 million people in 2015,” Morris said.
The research is a major step toward the ultimate goal of identifying new genes and understanding the biology of the disease, which has the potential to help scientists develop new treatments. (Also read: Best and worst breakfast options for diabetics)
It is also an important milestone in the development of ‘genetic risk scores’ to identify individuals most predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of their population backgrounds.
A meta-analysis compared the DNA of nearly 181,000 people with type 2 diabetes versus 1.16 million people without the disease. Searching across the entire human genome for groups of genetic markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, genome-wide association studies look for genetic differences between people with and without the disease.
This technique allows scientists to focus on the parts of the genome that are implicated in disease risk, helping to identify disease-causing genes.
However, the largest genome-wide association studies of type 2 diabetes have historically included the DNA of people of European descent, which has led to limited progress in understanding the disease in other populations.
To address this bias, scientists from the DIAMANTE consortium have compiled the most diverse set of genetic information about the disease in the world, with nearly 50 percent of individuals from East Asian, African, South Asian, and Hispanic population groups.
“To date, more than 80 percent of genomic research of this type has been done in white populations of European ancestry, but we know that grades developed exclusively in individuals of one ancestry do not work well in people of different ancestry,” said Spracklen. , who helped analyze and coordinate the sharing of data from people of East Asian descent.
The new paper builds on previous Spracklen research identifying genetic associations with type 2 diabetes in populations of East Asian descent and identifying genetic associations with diabetes-related traits (fasting glucose, fasting insulin, HbA1c) in multi-ancestral populations.
“Because our research included people from different parts of the world, we now have a more complete picture of the ways in which genetic risk patterns for type 2 diabetes differ across populations,” McCarthy said.
Mahajan added, “We have now identified 117 genes that potentially cause type 2 diabetes, 40 of which have not been previously reported. That is why we feel this constitutes a major step forward in understanding the biology of this disease.”
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