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  Updated: 25-May-2024

New DNA variants for risk of type 2 diabetes

 Tue 19-Jan-2010

Research by partners of the Centre for Medical Systems Biology (CMSB) in Amsterdam, Leiden and Rotterdam is contributing to the discovery of new genetic variants that influence the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers of the international consortium MAGIC (Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-related traits Consortium), of which the CMSB partners are members, published these results on Monday 18 January in the advanced online edition of Nature Genetics.

Around the world, over 200 million people have diabetes, 90% of them suffering from type 2 diabetes, or so-called senile diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the insulin produced by the body can no longer maintain blood glucose levels in correct balance. This is usually determined by measuring the glucose (= blood sugar) values of a fasting patient. In type 2 diabetes, the cells no longer react sufficiently to the body’s own insulin (so-called insulin resistance) and/or sufficient insulin is no longer being produced.

The MAGIC researchers carried out a meta-analysis on the fasting plasma glucose levels of approximately 50,000 persons and then repeated this analysis on the data of another 76,000 persons. These extensive analyses yielded nine new genetic variants that influence fasting plasma glucose levels. Additionally, a number of these genetic variants prove to be associated with an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with obesity. Obesity is occurring with increasing frequency and at increasingly younger ages; type 2 diabetes is concomitantly also expected to occur more frequently and in younger persons. The value of finding the genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes is that this will eventually lead to better, more individual-related risk assessment and new ways of influencing this risk.

The CMSB (Centre for Medical Systems Biology) is one of the centres of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI) and focuses on improving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of such complex diseases as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, migraine, depression and arthritis.  Participants in the CMSB are Leiden University Medical Centre, Erasmus Medical Centre, the Free University (VU) medical centre and the TNO (Netherlands Association for Applied Scientific Research).

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