Tracking the Onset of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a lifestyle disease for the vast majority of people - you avoid it by refraining from overeating, becoming fat, and giving up exercise to turn sedentary. But some folk are more likely to succumb than others, given the same lifestyle choices, and different people descend into metabolic syndrome and then type 2 diabetes at different rates. It won't be too many more years before clinics will be able to tell you exactly where you stand on the downward spiral, and what your risks are: research "has provided the first proof of molecular risk factors leading to type 2 diabetes, providing an 'early warning' sign that could lead to new approaches to treating this and other human disease conditions. ... Taking an innovative research direction, [the] research team decided to map DNA methylation variations rather than DNA sequence variations, as was traditionally done. The team undertook a proof-of-concept study among 1,169 type 2 diabetes patients and non-diabetic controls. The results demonstrated the unique abilities of this novel research approach by revealing a clear-cut, disease-predisposing DNA methylation signature. This is a first report in the scientific literature of epigenetic risk factor for T2D. DNA methylation is a naturally occurring mechanism used to regulate genes and protect DNA from some types of cleavage. It is one of the regulatory processes that are referred to as epigenetic, in which an alteration in gene expression occurs without a change in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA. Defects in this process cause several types of disease that afflict humans. ... telltale methylation signature marks were also shown to appear on the DNA of young individuals who latter developed impaired glucose metabolism, even before the appearance of clinical diabetic manifestations."


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