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CCMB research shows population- specific genetic susceptibility to Type-2 Diabetes

By Special Correspondent

A world-wide study of diverse populations has shed new light on how genes contribute to Type 2 Diabetes and has found population-specific differences in genetic susceptibility to the disease.

The study, DIAMANTE (DIAbetes Meta-Analysis of Trans-Ethnic association studies), co-led by Andrew Morris of the University of Manchester with CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology’s (CCMB) chief scientist Giriraj R. Chandak, one of the lead investigators from here, had scientists from different parts of the world “putting together their minds to understand similarities and differences in genetic susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes in different populations”.

Global prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes, a familial disease with severe morbidity, has increased four-fold over the last three decades with India and China becoming ‘major hubs’ of this spurt in South Asia.

Indians are especially at risk of Type 2 Diabetes because they are centrally obese (fat around the abdomen) indicative of fat around their visceral organs, and are more insulin-resistant right from birth.

Europeans, on the other hand, are “overall fat in a generalised manner”. Despite this fact, studies to understand genetic basis of Type 2 Diabetes have mostly been conducted on populations of European ancestry so far.

The latest study compared genomic DNA of 1.8 lakh people with Type 2 Diabetes against 11.6 lakh normal subjects from five ancestries — Europeans, East Asians, South Asians, Africans and Hispanics, and identified large numbers of genetic differences (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs) between patients and normal subjects.

“Results of this study paved the way for development of ancestry-specific genetic risk score for risk prediction in different populations and has immense implications for Indians, where every sixth individual is a potential diabetic,” said Dr. Chandak on Thursday.

His group had earlier provided evidence of greater genetic heterogeneity in Indians compared to Europeans, which compromises the ability to predict Type 2 Diabetes risk in the Indian populations using European data.

“This study sets up the stage for further investigating South Asian population for genetic susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes and extend the journey on the path of precision medicine,” said CSIR-CCMB director Vinay Nandicoori. The latest multinational research paper has been published in ‘Nature Genetics’, said an official release.

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