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Diabetes gene discovered

25th October 2006

07072006_diabetes_1.jpgA common genetic defect has been identified as a major risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

A team from the University College London Centre for Cardiovascular Genetics found that carrying two copies of the mutant TCF7L2 gene doubles the risk of the disease.

Currently the most commonly associated risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity, but the research, published in the Journal of Molecular Medicine, shows those with this genetic abnormality have an equal risk to the clinically obese.

More than two million people in the UK have diabetes. The disease can cause long-term damage to the major arteries, the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

The research team examined more than 2,500 European middle-aged men whose health had been followed over a period of 15 years. A total of 158 developed type 2 diabetes.

They found men carrying one copy of variant TCF7L2 were 50 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, while those with two copies were 100 per cent more likely to get the disease, when compared to those with no copies.

Around 40 per cent of the population are believed to carry one mutated version of the gene, while 10 per cent carry two. The gene is thought to relate to the pancreas, where insulin is made.

Experts say more research now needs to be carried out into why the genetic defect increases risk, with the possibility of eventually introducing a genetic screening programme.




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