Gene Mutation Could Spawn Powerful Anti-Diabetes Drug

Rare mutation cuts risk by two-thirds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2014 1:25 AM CST
Diabetes affects at least 347 million people around the world, including more than 25 million in the US.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Genetic research has yielded what scientists believe could be an extremely powerful weapon in the fight against type 2 diabetes. A rare mutation has been found that slashes the risk of diabetes by around two-thirds, even in obese people, the New York Times reports. The mutation, which destroys a gene linked to diabetes risk, was found when researchers studied the genes of a group of people who did not have diabetes despite being overweight smokers and drinkers with an average age of around 80.

Scientists say the research could lead to a drug that mimics the mutation's effect, providing a bonanza for drugmaker Pfizer, which funded the research, though it could take more than a decade to develop a drug and get it to market. "Human genetics is not just a tool for understanding biology," a professor at Harvard Medical School tells Bloomberg. "It can also powerfully inform drug discovery by addressing one of the most challenging and important questions—knowing which targets to go after."

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