A major international study with leadership from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has identified 10 new gene variants associated with blood sugar or insulin levels. Two of these novel variants and three that earlier studies associated with glucose levels were also found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Along with a related study from members of the same research consortium, associating additional genetic variants with the metabolic response to a sugary meal, the report will appear in Nature Genetics and has been released online.
"Only four gene variants had previously been associated with glucose metabolism, and just one of them was known to affect type 2 diabetes. With more genes identified, we can see patterns emerge," says Jose Florez, MD, PhD, of the MGH Diabetes Unit and the Center for Human Genetic Research, co-lead author of the report. "Finding these new pathways can help us better undertand how glucose is regulated, distinguish between normal and pathological glucose variations and develop potential new therapies for type 2 diabetes."
Both studies were conducted by the Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-related Traits Consortium (MAGIC), a collaboration among researchers from centers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia that analyzed gene samples from 54 previous studies involving more than 122,000 individuals of European descent. The study co-led by MGH scientists along with colleagues from Boston University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and the University of Michigan began by analyzing about 2.5 million gene variations (called SNPs) from 21 genome-wide searches for variants associated with glucose and insulin regulation in more than 46,000 nondiabetic participants. The 25 most promising SNPs from the first phase were then tested in more than 76,000 nondiabetic participants in 33 other studies, leading to new associations of nine SNPs with fasting glucose levels and o
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Massachusetts General Hospital