type 2 diabetes, genetic, study

New Gene Variants Give Huge Insight into Type 2

Groundbreaking news for type 2 diabetes: lifestyle might not be the only factor that contributes to developing the condition. Recently, scientists discovered new gene variants that play a role in type 2.

Is type 2 diabetes genetic? Many researchers consider type 1 to be more influenced by genes than type 2. Yet in a new study, variants of four protein-coding genes were found that can help develop more targeted drugs for treating type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to note, however, that just because someone has the gene variant in question does not necessarily mean they’ll develop type 2. There is a correlation between the factors, and if the gene variants are present the disease could develop under certain conditions.

Risk factors for type 2

Factors that make someone more likely to develop type 2 are:

  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of diabetes
  • A history of gestational diabetes
  • History of prediabetes or insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Excess weight around the belly
  • Age 45 or older

The tricky thing is, researchers have never been 100 percent sure of how type 2 works in the body. In type 2 diabetes, over time the body becomes resistant to insulin, and is no longer able to manage blood glucose levels.

The newly-discovered gene variants suggest that there are many more new genes linked to type 2 to be discovered. With a deeper knowledge of the biological processes of diabetes, doctors will better be able to treat and possibly halt the disease.


The study

An international team of scientists led by the Broad Institute, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford looked at a wide range of people from many different ethnic backgrounds: around 21,000 people with type 2 and 25,000 people without. It is one of the largest genetic studies of its kind done yet. Still, researchers say an even larger sample is needed to get real insights into these gene variants.

Is type 2 diabetes genetic? Not completely, but these findings offer profound insights into ways type 2 is influenced by genes. First author of the study Jason Flannick said, “We now have an updated picture of the role of rare DNA variations in diabetes.”

With diabetes being the seventh leading cause of death around the world, this study will make a major impact on type 2 treatment. The study was published in the journal Nature on May 22.