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Genetic Test for Type II Diabetes Moves Closer

Scientists have mapped the most important genes associated with the risk of developing Type II diabetes,// bringing a genetic test to identify those most at risk a step closer.

Researchers have identified five loci, or locations on peoples' genetic maps that correspond to a risk of developing this life threatening disorder. The genetic mutations were found after scanning nearly 400,000 mutations in nearly 6,500 people.

The scientists from various international institutions believe their findings explain up to 70 per cent of the genetic background of Type II diabetes – a diseases that affects over 1.9m people in the UK and is characterised by either low levels of, or an inadequate response to insulin - a hormone secreted by the pancreas to release energy from the breakdown of carbohydrates.

The disease is frequently passed from generation to generation, and its rapidly increasing prevalence is thought to be due to environmental factors, such as increased availability of food and decreased necessity for exercise, acting on genetically susceptible individuals.

Professor Philippe Froguel, one of the authors of the article published in Nature from the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “The two major reasons why people develop Type II diabetes are obesity and a family link. Our new findings mean that we can create a good genetic test to predict people's risk of developing this type of diabetes.”

“If we can tell someone that their genetics mean they are pre-disposed towards Type II diabetes, they will be much more motivated to change things such as their diet to reduce their chances of developing the disorder. We can also use what we know about the specific genetic mutations associated with Type II diabetes to develop better treatments.”

The researchers used two single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) platforms for identifying the gene mutations;
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