Scientists Discover New Diabetes Genes

Six variants each add risk for developing the disease
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2008 9:40 AM CDT
Top worldwide diabetic populations, percentage of diabetes types and types of treatment used.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Scientists pooling data from European and US studies have identified six more genes associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, the Guardian reports. The study, published in Nature Genetics, found small but significant connections between the genes and the disease, with certain genetic variants linked to a 10-15% increase in risk. Researchers hope the discovery can lead to developments in prevention and treatment.

Scientists don't know why these genes affect diabetes rates, but suspect they may influence cells' ability to overcome insulin resistance. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond properly to insulin produced by beta cells in the pancreas. "One of the most exciting bits is that we're finding lots of unexpected connections," said a researcher, who noted that one of the six genes has also been linked to prostate cancer.