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Aurora magazine

Type 2 diabetes in African Americans

One of the most used tests to diagnose type 2 diabetes is influenced by 60 genetic variants. One of these variants, however, is only found in African American patients. This dramatically reduces the accuracy of the diagnosis and makes it necessary to think of an alternative. According to the authors of the study, genetic screening for this variant should be added to the standard blood test.

In the UK, diabetics are over 4 million and should reach 5 million by 2025. 90% of them suffer from type 2 diabetes, the most common form of obesity. For the diagnosis and monitoring of this form of diabetes, the HbA1c test is used. The test serves to measure blood sugar levels so that the progression of the disease is verified.

More than 200 scientists have studied genetic variants that could affect the outcome of the exam. They performed genetic screening of 160,000 diabetic subjects and European, African and Asian ancestors. Researchers have discovered 60 genetic variants that affect the HbA1c test results. Of these, 42 are new and one is present only in those with an African ancestor.

The G6PD gene variant influences the results of the HbA1c test, as it lowers blood sugar values. Thus increasing the risk of inaccurate and overly optimistic diagnosis. The variant affects about 11% of African Americans, on which the normal diagnostic tools are therefore much less effective.