Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

New Gene Hot Spots for Type 2 Diabetes

Multiple Genes Play Role in Susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 31, 2008 -- Researchers are six steps closer to finding a genetic fingerprint to identify people particularly susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

To climb the six steps, an international consortium of researchers crunched data from three studies of some 2.2 million single DNA changes across the entire genomes of more than 10,000 people, with replication testing in separate samples of up to 54,000 people.

In the end, Wellcome Trust researcher Eleftheria Zeggini, PhD, and colleagues found six new genetic variations that each increase a person's risk of type 2 diabetes. With the six additions, there are now 16 genetic variations independently linked to type 2 diabetes risk.

None of the 16 gene variations causes diabetes. In fact, each contributes only slightly to diabetes. But the more of these variations researchers find, the closer they are to finding a genetic fingerprint for diabetes risk.

"By combining information from the large number of genes now implicated in diabetes risk, it may be possible to use genetic tools to identify people at unusually high or low risk of diabetes," study researcher David Altshuyler, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard say in a news release. "However, until we know how to use this information to prompt beneficial changes in people's treatment or lifestyle, widespread genetic testing would be premature."

Interestingly, the genetic variant that carried the highest diabetes risk has also been found to predispose men to prostate cancer.

It's hard to know what to make of that association -- other than the fact that this gene is also linked to low blood sugar in fetuses and newborns.

The other five new genes linked to type 2 diabetes risk also offer clues to the cause of diabetes. These genes encode proteins that play roles in:

  • Disruption of the normal life cycle of cells
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cell death
  • Pancreatic function
  • The development of pancreatic stem cells

"Each of these genes, therefore, provides new clues to the processes that go wrong when diabetes develops, and each provides an opportunity for the generation of new approaches for treating or preventing this condition," study researcher Mark McCarthy, MD, of the University of Oxford, England, says in the news release.

Researchers from the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute participated in the study. The study appears in the March 30 advance online issue of Nature Genetics.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article