'Jack Spratt' diabetes gene identified

June 1, 2012

Type 2 diabetes is popularly associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. However, just as there are obese people without type 2 diabetes, there are lean people with the disease.

It has long been hypothesised that in lean people is more 'genetically driven'. A new study from a research team led by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), University of Exeter, which involved research institutions from around the world, has for the first time proved that lean type 2 have a larger genetic disposition to the disease than their obese counterparts. The study has also identified a new genetic factor associated only with lean diabetes sufferers.

The study is published in .

Using genetic data from genome-wide association studies, the research team tested genetic markers across the genome in approximately 5,000 lean patients with type 2 diabetes, 13,000 obese patients with the disease and 75,000 healthy controls.

The team found differences in genetic enrichment between lean and obese cases, which support the hypothesis that lean diabetes sufferers have a greater to the disease. This is in contrast to obese patients with type 2 diabetes, where factors other than type 2 diabetes genes are more likely to be responsible. In addition, genetic variants near the gene, LAMA1, were linked to type 2 for the first time, with an effect that appeared only in the lean patients.

Dr. John Perry, one of the lead authors of the study, said: "Whenever a new disease gene is found, there is always the potential for it to be used as a for new therapies or as a biomarker, but more work is needed to see whether or not this new gene has that potential."

He added: "This is the first time that a type 2 diabetes gene has been found to act in this way – we do not know why it should be associated in one sub-group of patients and not another. It could point to the fact that type 2 diabetes may not be one disease, but may represent a number of subgroups. Again, more work is required to prove this hypothesis."

Dr. Perry concluded: "This study is a truly international one, bringing together research teams from around the world and leading UK institutions such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, King's College London, the University of Dundee and the University of Edinburgh."

Explore further: Six new genetic variants linked to type 2 diabetes discovered in South Asians

Related Stories

Genetic study links body clock receptor to diabetes

January 29, 2012

A study published in Nature Genetics today has found new evidence for a link between the body clock hormone melatonin and type 2 diabetes. The study found that people who carry rare genetic mutations in the receptor for melatonin ...

Recommended for you

New class of RNA tumor suppressors identified

November 23, 2015

A pair of RNA molecules originally thought to be no more than cellular housekeepers are deleted in over a quarter of common human cancers, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Breast cancer ...

Batten disease may benefit from gene therapy

November 11, 2015

In a study of dogs, scientists showed that a new way to deliver replacement genes may be effective at slowing the development of childhood Batten disease, a rare and fatal neurological disorder. The key may be to inject viruses ...

Molecular clocks control mutation rate in human cells

November 9, 2015

Every cell in the human body contains a copy of the human genome. Through the course of a lifetime all cells are thought to acquire mutations in their genomes. Some of the mutational processes generating these mutations do ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.