Research Finds South Asian Diabetes Gene

by Mark Benson on October 12, 2011

Diabetes gene for South Asians

A recent study conducted at the Imperial College of London has found six genes that contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes in South Asians. The objective of the research is the development of screening techniques to identify those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The common causes of Type 2 are eating too much and lack of exercise in the individual. Out of the statistics, individuals of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi heritage have greater susceptibility to develop the condition. These individuals are found to have four times at greater risk in developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those of European descent. The study found the genetic propensity as well as the lifestyle to eventually have adult onset diabetes.

The study was done with the coordination of other researchers from all around the world. These researchers analyzed the DNA of 18,731 individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and 39,856 of non-diabetic individuals. The genetic makeup of individuals was reviewed and their genetic code was compared with everyone in the study suffering from diabetes. The study concluded that a difference of a single letter linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes in an individual’s genetic code.

Dr. John Chambers, senior author of the study said, “Our findings give important new insight into the genes underlying of diabetes in this population, which in the long term might lead to new treatments to prevent diabetes.”  The study would be published in the journal Nature Genetics, to which Chambers added, “Type 2 diabetes is more common in South Asian populations than any other ethnic group, but the reason for this increased risk is unclear. Although lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and obesity are important causes of diabetes in South Asians, these are only part of the explanation. Genetic factors have been widely considered to play a role in the increased risk of type 2 diabetes in Asians, but to date have not been systematically explored in this population.”

Professor Jaspal S. Kooner of the National Heart and Lung Institute at the Imperial College of London added, ““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.”

A previous study done in 2007 in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease found that South Asians have a one in three chance of developing Type 2 diabetes over the course of their lives. This condition imposes a greater burden on South Asians resulting in higher fatality rates from diabetes complications such as cardiovascular and renal disease.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Neeta November 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

Mostly diabetes in Asian Countries are due to change in lifestyle and food habits. Ayurveda & Chinese medicines provide better remedy for management of diabetes. Research with respect to modern standards should be taken seriously so as to provide better medication.

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