Six New Genetic Variants Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Discovered in South Asians

Medical Xpress, August 28, 2011

An international team of researchers led by Imperial College London has identified six new genetic variants associated with type-2 diabetes in South Asians. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, give scientists new leads in the search for diagnostic markers and drug targets to prevent and treat this major disease.

People of South Asian ancestry are up to four times more likely than Europeans to develop type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Around 55 million South Asian people are affected worldwide, and the number is projected to rise to 80 million by 2030.

This new study is the first to focus on genes underlying diabetes amongst people originating from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). The researchers from around the world examined the DNA of 18,731 people with type 2 diabetes and 39,856 healthy controls. The genomes of the participants were analysed to look for locations where variations were more common in those with diabetes. The results identified six positions where differences of a single letter in the genetic code were associated with type 2 diabetes, suggesting that nearby genes have a role in the disease.

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Professor Jaspal S Kooner, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at ImperialCollege London, the lead author for the study said: “This is the first genome-wide association study in South Asians, who comprise one-quarter of the globe’s population, and who carry a high burden of the disease and its complications, including heart attack and stroke. We have shown that the genetic variants discovered here in South Asians also exist and contribute to diabetes in Europeans. Our studies in Asians and European populations highlight the importance and gain in examining the same problem in different ethnic groups.”

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  • Anonymous

    As Steve Sailer documents, South Asia (India in particular) is among the most genetically diverse regions on the planet. I wonder what sub-populations they were referring to?

  • Anonymous

    In this ‘hypersensitive’ age, which seems to be killing us. . . no one wants to call an illness what it really is. Instead everything is labelled a ‘disease’. And all ‘diseases’ are caused by genetics now. . . I believe diabetes would be more accurately named Pancreatic failure? Everyone is susceptible but consuming too much sugar over time can lead to this ‘disease’?

  • (AWG) Average White Guy

    Eventually some bio-terrorist will devise a means to attack ethnic groups by way of viral attack that discriminates genetically.

  • Anonymous

    These ambigious ethnic and racial names are so confusing.

    Do they mean the people of Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, that Penninsula off the southern edge of China?

    Geographers consider that area Southern Asian becuse it is in Asia and is the farthermost southern part of the Asian mainland.

    That makes sense. The English notion of S. Asian is totally incorrect.

    Or do they mean Pakistanis, Indians, and Afghanis? Pakistan and Afghanistan are south of Russia, but they can’t exactly be considered “Southern”. Ever been to Afghanistan or Pakistan in winter? Think Minnesota and the Dakotas.

    England, like America has a multitude of ethnic grievance groups.

    London, Liverpool and other port cities have had Chinatowns since the early explorers hired Chinese sailors while in Asia and brought them back to England.

    Were I an Asiatic mongolian race Asian in England I would raise some money from my community, hire a human rights attorney and force the English goverment and civil rights industry to stop classifying Pakistanis, Afghanis, and Indians as Asians.

  • John Engelman

    Type-2 diabetes is more commonly found among those who emerged more recently from a paleolithic way of life. With the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture the percentage of protein in the diet declined, and the percentage of carbohydrates increased.

    Members of population groups that have practiced agriculture the longest, like inhabitants of the Near East, Europeans, and Orientals, are more likely to be able to handle glucose properly.

  • Michael C. Scott

    Starvation used to be so widespread in that part of the world – until quite recently – that one must wonder whether people’s metabolism has adapted so thoroughly to scarcity that a relative abundance of food for the middle classes (coupled with the sedentary office jobs typical of middle classes) results in diabetes. The two big risk factors in the developed West, other than genetic predisposition are overeating and a sedentary lifestyle, after all.

    We know a very similar adaptation developed among New World blacks; retention of salt was a survival trait on the slave ships, but the survivors’ descendants in the US, Caribbean and Brazil are now subject to hypertension to a degree that native Africans are not.

  • Isnt the very first commenter speaking the truth or what??