Study identifies Type 2 diabetes genetic variants linked to ethnicity

Study enrolled 87,000 subjects

PHILADELPHIA — A new study has found several gene variants associated with Type 2 diabetes across different ethnic groups.

Calling it the largest genetics study of Type 2 diabetes, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said the findings could point to biological targets for developing more effective drugs for the disease, which accounts for most of the nearly 26 million people living with diabetes in the United States. The study, published online in the American Journal of Human Genetics last week, included 17,000 people with Type 2 diabetes and a control group of 70,000, including subjects with African-American, Hispanic, Asian and European ancestry.

"Scientists have identified only about 10% of the genetic variants contributing to Type 2 diabetes, and most previous studies have been based on people of European ancestry," study co-author Brendan Keating of the hospital's Center for Applied Genomics said. "This international study found that many gene variants associated with Type 2 diabetes overlap across multiple ethnic groups."

The study's researchers examined 50,000 genetic variants across 2,100 genes associated with the disease, identifying variants in four previously unknown genes that play a part in it and verifying 16 previously reported Type 2 diabetes-linked variants. A total of 40 gene variants have been found to raise or lower the risk of the disease.

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