Genetic variations may influence diabetes and fasting blood glucose levels

Wed, 09 Feb 2011
A new study has found that genetic variations in a hormone involved in the secretion of insulin occur more often in some parts of the world than others. Evolution has been the main factor in the genetic variation, according to scientists at Stanford University.

The research, carried out in Taiwan and Texas and published in the journal Diabetes, revealed that those people who had the newer variants, believed to have first occurred between 2,000 and 12,000 years ago, have higher fasting blood glucose levels than those with an older, more traditional, version of the gene. They were able to initially identify 207 genetic regions associated with diabetes or obesity.

It is hoped the discovery will lead to a greater knowledge of why subtle changes in human metabolism happened during the evolution from hunter-gatherers to a culture more based around agriculture. It could also help clinicians identify individuals at a greater risk of developing the metabolic condition, potentially leading to new treatments for diabetes and obesity.

Sheau Yu Hsu, senior author of the study, commented "These studies are fascinating because it shows how much the selection process has affected human energy-balance regulation in just a few thousand years and how complex it could be for the future practice of personalized medicine."
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