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New advances in lipid genetics lead to better detection and prevention of major diseases
Date:5/29/2011

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Studying the genetic make-up of different varieties of lipids (fatty molecules) in the blood plasma of an individual can lead to a better and earlier prediction of diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease, two researchers will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today (Monday 30 May). In the first study, Dr. Joanne Curran from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, USA, will tell the conference that lipidomic profiling will become a more reliable early indicator of individuals likely to develop diabetes than the more commonly used predictors such as blood glucose and insulin levels.

Dr. Curran and colleagues from the US and Australia measured 356 different lipid varieties from about 1100 Mexican American members of large extended families who were part of the San Antonio Family Heart Study. The Mexican American population is at high risk of diabetes with about 25% of this population ultimately becoming diabetic. At the start of the research, 861 of the individuals studied did not have diabetes. However, over the 10 year follow-up examined in the study, 110 individuals did develop the disease.

The scientists were able to isolate 128 different varieties of lipids that predicted the progression to diabetes by measuring the the lipidomic profiles of each individual at multiple timepoints during the follow-up period. "The single best predictor we found was a novel component called dihydroceramide (dhCer). This was substantially increased in people with diabetes. It is also heritable, and appears to be an independent risk factor unconnected to blood sugar and insulin levels," says Dr. Curran.

After uncovering the link between dhCer and diabetes, the team searched the genome to find locations that harboured genes that influence dhCer levels. They identified a region on chromosome 3 that appeared to contain a gene with substantial im
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society of Human Genetics
Source:Eurekalert

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