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Elucidation of the genome for diabetics with DNA chips

The genome of patients with type 2 diabetes (DT2) has been elucidated, for the first time, thanks to the use of new DNA chip technologies allowing 400,000 DNA mutations to be studied simultaneously. New genes conferring a predisposition to DT2 have been identified. They include the zinc transporter of pancreatic insulin-secreting cells (ZnT8), which is a potential target for treatment. This study of the French population was carried out as a French-British-Canadian collaboration between the teams directed by Philippe Froguel (CNRS, University of Lille 2, Pasteur Institute, Imperial College London) and Rob Sladek (McGill University, Montreal, Canada). About 70% of the genetic risk of DT2 is accounted for by these new discoveries, published online in Nature on February 11 2007. This work opens up entirely new avenues of prevention and treatment for this disease.

There are more than 200 million diabetics worldwide, and it has been predicted that this number will double by 2030. This increase in the number of diabetics is linked to the obesity epidemic, which currently affects 1.1 thousand million people, including 150 million children. However, heredity also makes a major contribution to the development of DT2. Abnormalities in insulin secretion appear very early in the children of diabetic parents. These individuals become hyperglycaemic when they put on weight and are resistant to the insulin they produce. The team of Philippe Froguel was the first to identify a gene associated with DT2 ?that encoding glucokinase ?in 1992. Several other such genes have since been discovered, but together these genes account for only a small proportion of DT2 cases. Insufficient knowledge of the human genome and the absence of cheap, simple-to-use, rapid analytical techniques hampered progress in medical research for many years. The recent sequencing of the human genome and the establishment of a complete map of DNA variations in the human species have finally made it possible
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Source:CNRS


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