News / Health

Gene Mutation Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

Discovery could lead to prevention, early treatment for those most at risk

People with type 2 diabetes must monitor their blood sugar because their bodies cannot convert blood sugar into energy. Sugar build up in the blood, can lead to serious complications, including death.
People with type 2 diabetes must monitor their blood sugar because their bodies cannot convert blood sugar into energy. Sugar build up in the blood, can lead to serious complications, including death.

Multimedia

Carol Pearson

Scientists have identified a unique genetic mutation in about 10 percent of people with type 2 diabetes studied in the United States and Europe. The discovery could help some people learn if they are at risk of developing diabetes so they can seek early treatment and possibly avoid getting the disease altogether.

More than 200 million people worldwide suffer from type 2 diabetes, a potentially fatal disorder. The World Health Organization expects diabetes-related deaths to double by 2030. Diabetes strikes people in rich and poor countries alike. World Health Organization statistics show that more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Age and obesity are two risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Another is family history.

"Diabetes is a very important disease that is increasing in every country in the world," says Dr. Ira Goldfine, who has been studying the DNA of people with and without diabetes. "And we need to know what causes it.  And we have to get better treatments for it."

With type 2 diabetes, the body cannot turn blood sugar into energy.  When sugar builds up in the blood, it can lead to serious complications including death. That's why people afflicted with the disease need to monitor their blood sugar.

"I have to test my blood virtually every day and make sure that my blood sugar is in a relatively normal range," says Dr. Arthur Lyons was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago.

It was while studying DNA that Goldfine and his colleagues isolated the genetic mutation.

"We found a protein that’s important, and we found that there are defects of this protein in diabetics," he says.  

The gene that makes this protein is called HMGA-1. The protein is important because it is an insulin receptor, which enables insulin to attach to liver cells and converts blood sugar to energy.

"If you don’t have the HMGA-1 gene, then you don’t make the insulin receptor, and if you don’t make the insulin receptor, insulin doesn’t work very effectively," says Goldfine.

Goldfine is one of the co-authors of the study that found the HMGA-1 mutation in some Italian diabetics. The researchers then repeated the finding in American and French patients.  All patients were Caucasian. They found that about 10 percent of type 2 diabetics in the United States and Europe, again all Caucasian, have defects in this gene”

"We have a screening test now to identify these people and people who are related to them so we can start treatment and intervention early," says Goldfine.

Early intervention for people with the HMGA-1 mutation including lifestyle changes: getting enough exercise, keeping weight in the normal range and monitoring blood sugar could prevent some people from developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers also say understanding the genetic component of this disease could help doctors provide better treatments to patients with type 2 diabetes, or even one day correct the genetic defect and prevent the disease that way.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More