gene mutation

Rare Genetic Mutation Could Prevent Diabetes

A new research study of the genes of 150,000 people has found a rare mutation that prevents some people from developing type 2 diabetes. This mutation promotes the thought of developing a drug which imitates its behavior.

The rare mutation destroys a gene in the pancreas where insulin is produced. In people who have the mutation, the pancreas produces slightly more insulin which keeps blood glucose levels slightly lower at all times.

According to New York Times, “This is the first time in diabetes research that a mutation that destroys a gene has proved beneficial,” stated Louis Philipson, director of the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago. He said, “That is very powerful,” for drug development.

Already, there are companies, like Pfizer and Amgen, that are researching the possibility of developing a drug. However, it should be noted that it normally takes 10-20 years for a drug to be on the market from this point.

The research was led by Dr. David Altshuler, deputy director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., and Dr. Kari Stefanson, chief executive of deCODE Genetics (a company with data on genes and diseases for the entire population of Iceland). Amgen purchased deCODE’s valuable database and searched it to find that 39 out of 5,440 had a mutation that destroyed the gene and did not have diabetes. Although 9 out of 3,727 people had the mutation and diabetes, this is still a significant number.

The researchers are now wondering whether or not there are any bad side effects that sprout from the mutation. Dr. Stefanson said that so far, there are no known bad health effects.

Although this research is promising, it is still only the first steps towards developing a drug. However, this could very well be the beginning of the end of type 2 diabetes.

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