A global study of 120,000 people has identified several potential targets for new type 2 diabetes treatments.
The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetesmay be influenced by just a handful of different genetic combinations, scientists from Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered.
Genetic differences pose the highest risk of the condition – as opposed to unique DNA changes – with over a dozen risk genes identified as being responsible for increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
DNA changes in the TM6SF2 gene were also found to alter the amount of fat stored in the liver, increasing levels of insulin and leading to a higher risk of the condition.
Researchers previously believed the genetic risk was down to rare inherited changes, unique to people and their family.
Note that whilst genetic predisposition can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, lifestyle factors also play a contributing role.
Scientists hope this discovery, published in the journal Nature, will allow them to look at developing new drugs that will interrupt the development of the condition.
Lead researcher Jason Flannick said: “Our study tells us that genetic risk for type 2 diabetes reflects hundreds or even thousands of different genetic variants, most of them shared across populations.
“This large range of genetic effects may challenge efforts to deliver personalised (or precision) medication.”
In the largest study of its kind, more than 300 scientists compared genetic variation among people across 22 countries with the condition and without it.
They looked for the contributing risk factors made by unique DNA differences and those which are common across a wider population.
Joint author, Mark McCarthy, from the University of Oxford, added: “In this study, we have been able to highlight, with unprecedented precisio, a number of genes directly involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.
“These represent promising avenues for efforts to design new ways to treat or prevent the disease.”
Professor Michael Boehnke, from the University of Michiga, added: “Our study has taken us to the most complete understanding yet of the genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes.

“With this in-depth analysis we have obtained a more complete picture of the number and characteristics of the genetic variants that influence type 2 diabetes risk.”
Whilst researchers are looking into genetic research to help treat type 2 diabetes, the best way of treating the condition, that has no side effects, is to adopt a healthy diet. Visit our Low Carb Program for more information.

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