An international team of scientists identified six new genetic variants involved in type 2 diabetes. The study backs previous research suggesting that a key process in the development of type 2 diabetes is the failure to regulate the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. In addition, the investigators found a surprising association between type 2 diabetes and the gene known as JAZF1, which was recently implicated in prostate cancer.
“This is now the second example of a gene which affects both type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer. We don’t yet know what the connections are, but this may have important implications for the future design of drugs for both of these conditions,” says one of the study’s lead authors, Eleftheria Zeggini, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford.
When considered individually, the genetic variants discovered to date account for only small differences in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but researchers say when all the variants are analyzed together, some significant differences in risk are likely to emerge.
Ninety scientists from over 40 centers analyzed genetic data gathered from over 70,000 people. Previous work from these groups and others had identified 10 genes contributing to type 2 diabetes risk.
The study was published March 30 in the advance online edition of Nature Genetics.