Rockefeller University Researchers Hunt For Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility Genes

The Rockefeller University is looking for people with type 2 diabetes to participate in a study aimed at determining the genetic causes of early- and late-onset forms of the disease. The study is part of the research program of the university's Starr Center for Human Genetics.

"We hope that by identifying genes that cause type 2 diabetes we can develop better diagnostic tools and improved drug therapies, and in the long term, a possible way of preventing this disease," says Assistant Professor Markus Stoffel, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and head of the Laboratory of Metabolic Diseases. Stoffel, the university's Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor, is an Irma Hirschl Scholar and a Pew Scholar. He received the Career Development Award in 1997 from the American Diabetes Association.

Genes constitute some of the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes, although environment also plays a role in the disease. Most common forms of diabetes are polygenic, meaning that more than one gene is involved in the disease, making it difficult to identify the genes responsible. By enrolling a large number of participants, the study investigators hope to identify as many type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes as possible.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by ineffective insulin secretion or improper insulin action on target tissues such as muscle, leading to impaired glucose uptake from the blood and increased levels of blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases. In about 5 percent of cases, inheritance follows a classic autosomal dominant pattern?anyone in a family who has one copy of the defective gene is likely to develop hyperglycemia or increased levels of blood glucose?and is characterized by an early age of onset.. Known as maturity onset-diabetes of the young (MODY), this form of diabetes usually develops before age 25. S

Contact: Joseph Bonner
Rockefeller University

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