Health

Genetic risk factor for type 2 diabetes discovered

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 6, 2006

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A polymorphism in the gene that plays a role in stabilizing levels of blood glucose has a strong link to the development of type 2 diabetes, according to a letter published online Jan. 15 in Nature Genetics. It will appear in print in the February issue.

Researchers with Decode Genetics who are studying the people of Iceland found that the "transcription factor 7-like 2" gene (TCF7L2) on chromosome 10 increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 45% in those who have one copy of this gene. Those who are homozygous have a risk increased by 141% in comparison to those who do not have this gene at all. About 38% of people carry at least one copy of the gene with only 7% carrying two.

This gene is believed to play a significant role in about 20% of cases of type 2 diabetes, and researchers replicated this finding in Danish and American cohorts.

Authors suggest that this finding will open the door to genetically targeted therapies that prevent and treat this disease.

"This is a milestone in human genetics," said Dr. Kari Stefansson, senior author on the paper and Decode CEO. "This is also an exciting starting point for the discovery of new drugs."

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/02/06/hlbf0206.htm.

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