Researchers have uncovered new genetic clues for diabetes and cancer of the colon and rectum, according to papers published on Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.
A consortium of researchers, sifting through data from six major studies, found six previously unknown genetic variants that boost the risk of Type 2 diabetes, the commonest of the two forms of the disease and one that is spreading fast in developed economies.
Separately, investigators found that people with specific variants of genes located on Chromosomes 8, 10 and 11 were at increased risk of colo-rectal cancers.
The flawed genes were found in a wide trawl of the genome of tens of thousands of people.
They add to other genes associated with risk for these complex diseases, although many more remain to be discovered, scientists say.
Diabetes affects 246 million people worldwide and is expected to affect some 380 million by 2025, according to the International Diabetes Federation website.
Colo-rectal cancer causes 655,000 deaths a year, according to figures on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website.
Finding genes that cause or contribute to a disease is the first step towards diagnostic tests to identify people at risk. It also potentially opens the way to drugs that block or ease the activity of the culprit genes.