Diabetes research got a boost when an international research team pinpointed four points on the human gene map that are linked to type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Imperial College London, UK, McGill University, Canada and the Pasteur Institute of France, among other institutions, together examined 392,935 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) belonging to participants with and without type 2 diabetes. After extensive comparisons, the researchers narrowed down the points or loci to four. The loci were those concerned with insulin regulation, including a mutation of zinc transporter SLC30A8. The scientists are hopeful that these findings will help them find a way to confirm a person’s predisposition to diabetes and thereby prevent its occurrence by suggesting dietary and other lifestyle changes.
Meanwhile, researchers from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium have confirmed that the gene CASP8 reduces the risk of breast cancer. After examining SNPs from nine genes, they concluded that a variation in the CASP8 gene reduced the risk for women carrying it by 10 per cent. On the other hand, a variation in the TGF-beta1 gene raised the risk of developing the disease by 7 per cent. Both these variants are not very strong and have as much influence as lifestyle habits do. However, the researchers admit the possibility of other genes existing that may be weak by themselves but can collectively influence one’s chances of developing the disease.
In another study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, Children's Hospital in California have determined that a protein secreted by gene Olig2 causes gliomas to form. They conducted experiments on mice where they observed that when the protein was prevented from functioning, the gliomas also stopped developing in 91 per cent of the mice. They believe that drugs that target Olig2 will be able to destroy tumor cells without having any negative effect on healthy brain tissue.
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