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4 New Genes Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

THURSDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Four new genes associated with type 2 diabetes have been identified by researchers, who also pinpointed six independent diabetes-associated gene variants at previously known locations on chromosomes.

These findings, from an analysis of 50,000 genetic variants across 2,000 genes linked to heart and metabolic function, appear in the Feb. 9 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The results offer valuable insight into the genetic risk for type 2 diabetes in multiple ethnic groups and could help lead to new treatments, according to a journal news release.

A number of environmental and genetic factors are associated with type 2 diabetes.

"Together, known [type 2 diabetes] genetic variants explain only about 10 percent of the genetic variance, indicating that additional genetic factors are likely to contribute to disease risk," senior study co-author Dr. Brendan Keating, of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in the news release.

"Further, previous studies have been based almost exclusively on individuals of European ancestry, and genetic contributors to [type 2 diabetes] are less well understood in non-European populations," he added. "An important first step towards understanding genetic risk across populations is to establish whether known [diabetes-associated] genes span ethnicities or are population-specific."

Keating and an international team of colleagues analyzed 39 multiethnic studies on type 2 diabetes that included more than 17,000 people with diabetes and 70,000 people without the disease.

"As a result of our large-scale genetic analysis, we uncovered previously unknown European and multiethnic genetic variants and confirmed that, together, known genetic risk factors influence [type 2 diabetes] risk in multiethnic populations, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians," senior co-author Richa Saxena, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in the release.

Saxena said that identifying new genes associated with type 2 diabetes in diverse ethnic groups could eventually guide strategies for developing treatments.

More information

For more on type 2 diabetes, go to Medline.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Journal of Human Genetics, news release, Feb. 9, 2012

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