Scientists have found two novel gene locations that raise the risk for type 1 diabetes.
The discovery of the genes at those locations, UBASH2A, on chromosome 21, and BACH2, on chromosome 6, may help the researchers to improve predictive tests and devise preventive strategies to fight the disease.
"As we add to our knowledge of the biology of type 1 diabetes and better understand details of the disease's genetic risk, we will be able to develop better diagnostic tests that meaningfully predict who will develop diabetes," said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
In the last two years, scientists have used highly automated, sophisticated gene-scanning tools to locate genes involved in Type 1 diabetes.
In the current study, researchers focussed their search in DNA samples of thousands of patients, family members and control subjects from Philadelphia, other parts of North America, Canada, Europe and Australia.
The genotyping work identified two new gene locations associated with type 1 diabetes.
The researchers observed that the genes at those locations, UBASH2A, on chromosome 21, and BACH2, on chromosome 6, were active in immune cells that play key roles in autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes.
"Much work remains to be done to discover exactly how these genes may function in molecular pathways involved in diabetes, but the genes are apparently biologically relevant to the disease," said Hakonarson.
Hakonarson expects that increasingly advanced genotyping technology will reveal the remaining undiscovered genes that contribute to type 1 diabetes.
The study appeared in the recent issue of Diabetes, the journal of the American Diabetes Association.