News

Newly found genetic variants heighten risk of developing type 2 diabetes, study finds

People with unique variations of a certain gene are 25% more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, latest research reports.

Rare genetic variants have been identified in the gene GIGYF1 by a team of academics from the University of Cambridge, with the variants only found in one in 3,000 people.

Fragile muscles and a higher percentage of body fat are also common symptoms of the variants.

In some cases, genes can trigger the development of type 2 diabetes, but experts are still unsure what many of these genes are.

Prior research has relied on ‘array genotyping’ techniques to record the different types of genes. This method effectively measures the usual genetic disparities between each individual.

However, the latest technological advancements have made genetic testing more inclusive by enabling scientists to analyse the DNA patterns of more than 20,000 genes that control human proteins. Human proteins are vital molecules that allow the body to operate.

This new method has made it possible to examine how genetic variations effect the development of numerous health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr John Perry said: “Reading an individual’s DNA is a powerful way of identifying genetic variants that increase our risk of developing certain diseases.

“For complex diseases such as type 2 diabetes, many variants play a role, but often only increasing our risk by a tiny amount.

“This particular variant, while rare, has a big impact on an individual’s risk.”

According to the scientists, the unique variants in the GIGFY1 gene also harm the ‘male-determining gene’ called the Y chromosome.

As part of the study, the scientists analysed genetic data of more than 200,000 UK citizens to detect the type of genes that are linked with the loss of the Y chromosome.

This is a common biological indicator of ageing that takes place in a small amount of white blood cells in males and signifies deteriorating cellular repair systems in the body.

Conditions that typically impact older people, like type-2 diabetes and cancer, are often associated with this biological indicator.

Professor Nick Wareham said: “Our findings highlight the exciting scientific potential of sequencing the genomes of very large numbers of people.

“We are confident that this approach will bring a rich new era of informative genetic discoveries that will help us better understand common diseases such as type 2 diabetes.”

“By doing this, we can potentially offer better ways to treat – or even to prevent – the condition.”

The entire research study can now be accessed in the journal Nature Communications.

To Top