September 5, 2012

The Evolution of Understanding Diabetes Genes


The complexity in controlling blood sugar levels has stymied us all. Doctors, patients, and researchers have been baffled for decades. However, now with a new finding from researchers in Sweden, the fog maybe lifting on the quagmire of genes that play a role in blood sugar balance.

In fact, researchers believe they have a 25% better understanding of the genes and their variants that affect the delicate blood glucose balance. Using insulin-producing cells from dead human donors, researchers were able to analyze the level of the gene in pancreatic islets and their effect on insulin secretion and glucose control.

This research has expanded the understanding of blood glucose from less than 3% to 25%. In terms of running a marathon, this is like the difference between barely completing the first mile of the race to running more than 6.5 miles.  The Lund University Diabetes Centre is leading the pack.

Of the 63 donors, 9 had  had ype 2 diabetes. Comparing the cells of people who had Type 2 diabetes and those from the non-diabetic people, researchers were able to gain greater understanding why the insulin-producing beta cells cease to be able to perform their function of producing sufficient insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control.

The conclusions of the study have new insights as to the differences between beta cells from healthy individuals and diabetics. As well as a link to insulin secretion and blood sugar levels. The majority of the 20 variants identified were not among the 47 known risk genes.

Does this mean that the biological rocks (aka genes) we’ve naturally selected to explain the plight of blood glucose don’t hold the answers we need? Or has the question changed? After all, evolution is they keystone for modern biology. Diabetes is a modern disease.

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