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Aurora magazine

Identify new genetic variants that cause diabetes

Type 2 diabetes depends on both environmental conditions and genetic predisposition, it is known. Yet the biological mechanisms underlying the disease are still unclear. For this reason, scientists from the University of Michigan have decided to expand the scope of traditional studies. Much of the research on diabetes is based on data collected from people of European origin.

This makes it harder to generalize the collected data, which does not take into account any variants present in other ethnic groups. For this study, instead, almost 46,000 people of all ethnic groups were involved, 21,000 suffering from type 2 diabetes and 25,000 healthy. In this way the researchers could rely on larger and more varied samples. Collect the samples, the researchers decided to reduce the radius of the analysis. They then concentrated on a particular portion of the genome, the one that codes for proteins.

This part of the genome is called an exome and represents only 2% of our entire genetic code. Research tends to underestimate it, but many recent studies are rediscovering it with surprising results. This is one of those. Thanks to this approach, the authors of the study found genetic variants related to the risk of diabetes ever observed, as they are rarer. A result already remarkable in itself, which however will require further studies and samples of even wider people.