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U of M-led study identifies new genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Ten genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes, a disease which impacts more than 170 million people worldwide, have been identified or confirmed by a U.S.-Finnish team led by scientists at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The discoveries could lead to the development of new drugs for diabetes, permit more effective targeting of drug and behavioral therapies, and help scientists and physicians better predict who will develop diabetes, said Michael Boehnke, the Richard G. Cornell Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics at the U-M School of Public Health.

Boehnke is the lead scientist on the Finland-United States Investigation of Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Genetics (FUSION) study group, which collaborated with two other groups of scientists to conduct the most comprehensive study to date of genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

"Until recently we knew very little about the genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes," said Boehnke, adding that diabetes has been called 'the geneticist's nightmare' because there are so many behavioral and environmental factors---in addition to genes---that are risk factors for the disease. "This is certainly not the complete genetic architecture for diabetes, but we have come a long way in better understanding the genetic basis for this disease."

The groups identified at least four new genetic factors associated with increased risk of diabetes and confirmed the existence of another six. The findings of the three groups, published simultaneously today in the online edition of the journal Science, boost to at least 10 the number of genes confidently associated with increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

"One of the nicest aspects of this study has been the collaboration between the three groups," Scott said. "Most of these variants would have taken substantially longer to identify if each group had proceeded independently."
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-764-1552
University of Michigan
26-Apr-2007


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