Scientist working at the DeCode Genetics Inc (Reykjavik company) was successful in identifying the gene that affects one fifth of the diabetic population in US.
The Icelandic researchers said that the exact function of the gene is not known, but is thought to regulate the genes responsible for insulin production.
The disease was studied in the Icelandic population, as they are a close nit community. The population strength is very small and they have a number of homogenous sets of genes with good medical records to back up.
Hence the researchers choose this population for research. The results were published in the Journal, Nature Genetics.
Diabetes is a disorder where in the body cannot regulate the blood sugar level. There are 2 basic types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes where in the body does not produce enough quantities of the hormone insulin. In type 2 Diabetes the hormone is produced in proper amounts but the cells don't respond to insulin.
But the major type of diabetes, which is extensively prevalent, is that of type 2 Diabetes.
Diabetes in general can lead to various complications like kidney failure, blindness and nerve and blood vessel damage.
But type 2 Diabetes in particular is seen in people who are obese.
Struan F.A. Grant and Kari Stefansson led the research team and they studied a number of genetic markers in 1185 type 2 diabetes patients and 931 individuals without the disease.
This resulted in the identification of a gene with myrid variations, which offers partial protection against the disease. Two other genes were identified that caused increased risk for the disease among the people.
In case of the Icelanders, 33% of diabetic patients had one of the genes that increased the risk rate for the disease and 26% of people without diabetes had one of the genes.
In the same way in case of the white Americans 39 % with diabetes had the gene and 25% without the disease had the gene.
When the researchers compared the gene variations in three populations of Icelanders, Danes and white Americans they found that 21% of Type 2 diabetes is due to the presence of the variation of the gene that increased the risk of diabetes.
The individuals carrying the deleterious version of the gene TCF7L2 can control their blood sugars with other supportive therapies like weight reduction programs and indulging in regular exercises.