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Twin studies revealed that genetics play a role in diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), although Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are linked to genetic predispositions, family history plays a greater role in the onset of Type 2. While external factors like diet and exercise do have a significant impact on how and when the condition sets in, the ADA states that, based on identical twin studies, if one sibling is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, there is a 75 percent that the other will be too. For Type 1 diabetes, that number drops to 50 percent.

However, recent findings from Lund University in Sweden have indicated that researchers may be on their way to better understanding the genetic aspects that factor into the disease. ScienceDaily reports that, instead of zeroing in on a specific gene variant that has been linked to diabetes, the Swedish scientists decided to broaden the scope of their studies to observe the role other genes may play in the body’s ability to secrete and moderate insulin.

Study author Leif Groop, a professor in department of endocrinology, explained that his research team used the 47 gene variants associated with diabetes as a starting point to determine how other genes in the body contributed to the condition.

“We have to map patterns because a single gene rarely acts on its own,” Groop stated. The source reports that Groop and his research team analyzed cells from diabetics and nondiabetics, using the known gene variants as “bait” and observing how they interacted with other elements. The study was published in this month’s edition of the scientific journal Cell Metabolism.

The benefits of this approach were clear: according to Groop, the researchers were able to account for 25 percent of blood-sugar abnormalities with this method. Prior studies have only managed to explain between 2 and 3 percent, he said. As a result, taking a broader approach could have a positive impact on the treatment and, potentially, the prevention, of Type 2 diabetes.

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