Diabetes: The South Asian Risk

Type 2 diabetes risk in South Asians may be associated with six genetic variants

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In the fight against type 2 diabetes, it is important to know who is at risk for the disease. While obesity is a major part of the picture, genetics also play a role in the development of diabetes.

Researchers have identified six genes that may trigger type 2 diabetes in South Asians. This discovery could lead to new screening methods for spotting those with a high risk of diabetes.

"Know your risk of diabetes, ask your doctor."

Dr. John C. Chambers, of Imperial College in London, and his fellow researchers from around the world conducted the study. South Asians (those of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan ethnic origin) seem to have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes than people of other ethnic origins. Dr. Chambers and colleagues wanted to explore why this population is so susceptible to the disease.

The researchers pinpointed six genetic changes linked to type 2 diabetes. One of the genetic changes was also associated with insulin sensitivity (the effectiveness of insulin, a hormone that manages blood sugar). Two other genetic changes were associated with the function of pancreatic beta-cells - the cells that produce insulin.

The study's authors write that these findings add to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying type 2 diabetes. The authors also believe that future genetic studies may reveal more about diabetes among South Asians.

For their study, Dr. Chambers and colleagues compared the genes of 5,561 people with type 2 diabetes and 14,458 people without diabetes. These individuals were pulls from studies in London, Pakistan, and Singapore.

The results of this genome-wide association study were published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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Review Date: 
October 10, 2011
Last Updated:
October 10, 2011