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News About Diabetes & Genes -- New Genetic Risk Factors Found & New Blood Test to Test for Genes, Which Put You At Risk

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:10pm

Lately, the news keeps coming in connecting genes and type 2 diabetes.

Today, as MSNBC reports, thanks to the Associated Press, a new study -- one of the largest yet -- reveals that scientists studying more than 32,000 people in five countries found clusters of new gene variants that raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The study, which was published online in the journal Science, reveals some fascinating findings about spots that harbor genetic risk factors for this complicated killer.

And the researchers were pretty excited about what they've uncovered. “We have been.. looking under the lamppost to try to find those genes ... and lots of times the lamplight was not actually where we wanted it,” said Dr. Francis Collins, genetics chief at the National Institutes of Health, a co-author of the research. But this new approach, he says, “allows us to light up the whole street, and look what we find.”

Meanwhile, as mentioned in a recent Newsweekarticle, a simple blood test may soon be used to identify individuals whose genes put them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The biotechnology company deCODE Genetics discovered a number of genes linked to the disease, including one that regulates the amount of insulin produced in the body. People with an abnormal copy of the gene are at a much greater risk of developing diabetes.

This new test -- which could help spur people to action (such as exercising more, losing weight and taking drugs) -- is expected to cost $500, Bloomberg.com reports.

But, think about it, wouldn't identifying a person's genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes be problematic or maybe even dangerous? What happens if, after taking the test, a person finds out that he or she is nott likely to develop type 2 diabetes? Would that person use that information as license to exercise less and eat those potentially dangerous, fast-acting carbs? Those are thoughts to ponder.

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