The study involved data from more than 122,000 people of European descent. Most of the variants linked to diabetes appear to work by affecting insulin secretion and not insulin resistance. Researchers say this may mean diet, lifestyle and obesity could impact insulin resistance more so than insulin secretion.
"The fact that not all genes involved with raising glucose levels increase diabetes risk tells us that it's not the mere fact of raising glucose that's important but rather how glucose is raised,” Jose Florez, M.D., Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospitals Diabetes Unit and the Center for Human Genetic Research in Boston, Mass., and co-lead author of the study, was quoted as saying. “It's one thing to increase glucose slightly within the normal range and quite another to affect a pathway that eventually leads to progressive glucose elevation, beta-cell failure or insulin resistance -- in other words type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Florez says there’s still more work to be done; only 10 percent of the genes that control glucose levels in non-diabetics have been identified. More research, he says, may lead to better treatments for diabetes.
"Finding these new pathways can help us better understand how glucose is regulated, distinguish between normal and pathological glucose variations and develop potential new therapies for type 2 diabetes," Dr. Florez explained.
Source: Nature Genetics, published online January 2010
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