A new study, published on Sunday in Nature Genetics, revealed that doctors have discovered a rare genetic mutation that could help prevent overweight people from developing diabetes.
Pfizer, the famous pharmaceutical company who funded the research, partnered with Amgen, who owns the company that provided the majority of the research, to complete the study.
The results are startling, and state that this gene could reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by two-thirds, or 65 percent. The discovery was made after 150,000 people were checked, and proved positive for the mutation that alters the gene that is used by pancreas cells where the insulin is made.
The researchers took a unique approach to the study, that was started four years ago, and started looking for mutations that decrease the likelihood of developing a disease, rather than one that increases the probability of contracting the disease. Researchers focused on a population with the average age of 80 and people who did not live healthy lives; they all were overweight, drinkers, and smokers. Despite their lifestyle choices, these people did not have diabetes, and the researchers wanted to know why.
Dr. David Altshuler, the deputy director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T. as well as the lead of the study, met with Dr. Kari Stefanson, the chief executive of deCODE Genetics, a company that holds all of the genetic and disease information for Iceland. Amgen provided the funds to purchase the database, and Altshuler was able to do further research.
He discovered that 39 people out of 5,440 had the mutation and did not have diabetes. He also found that nine out of 3,727 people, who had diabetes, also had the mutation. “It took us five minutes,” Stefanson said, according to the New York Times. “It was a lovely little afternoon in our conference room.”
Stefanson said that he and the group of researchers wrote a paper on their findings and submitted it to a medical journal. The journal rejected it, so they went back and mapped the genes of 13,000 more people. Again, they found the mutation that drastically reduced the risk of contracting the disease. They re-submitted their paper, and it was accepted by Nature Genetics.
Now, Pfizer and Amgen are working on developing a new drug that can mask itself as the mutation. While the findings are promising, Timothy Rolph, a Pfizer’s vice president, explained that it could take 10 to 20 years to get the drug to market, after the discovery of something regarding human genetics and diseases.
[Image via Healthdiary.com]