American scientists have discovered a variant gene can lead to diabetics with Type 2 diabetes being at greater risk. It is estimated that one third of the American population are carrying this gene.
Researchers at Decode Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, specialise in finding genetic roots to diseases in humans. Their findings have been reported in the journal Nature Genetics.
The variant gene was found by Decode Genetics in Icelanders and this has now also been found in the Danish and American population. The researchers have said that the variant gene has different strains across the human population.
Kari Stefansso, Decode’s chief executive said that a consequence of the discovery was the creation of a diagnostic test that would identify who carried this variant gene. He further commented that if people who discovered they carried this gene knew of the extra risk, that would perhaps give them the incentive to exercise and lose weight.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this disease affects 20.8 million Americans. Diabetes is, when harmful levels of sugar build up in the blood and sufferers develop risks of blindness and loss of limbs.
The main form of diabetes to develop in people is Type 2 which is usually diagnosed in adults and adolescents. However this is starting to affect younger age groups. Up to 95 per cent of diabetes cases that are diagnosed will be for Type 2 according to the CDC.
When babies are born they have two copies of every gene as one is inherited from each parent. This means that the risk is passed on by the new gene is dependent on if one or two copies of the gene have been inherited from the parents. It is estimated that 38 per cent of Americans who inherited one copy of the gene were 45 per cent more at risk of Type 2 than those who didn’t have this gene at all. According to Decode researchers 7 per cent of the population who carries two copies of the gene are 141 per cent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

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