Finding the right medicine: how gene influences diabetes treatment

Credit: Unsplash+

Diabetes is a condition where the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it produces effectively.

This leads to high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, and it’s a big problem worldwide.

Now, imagine you’re a doctor trying to help patients who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

You have different medicines available to lower their blood sugar levels. But it’s like a puzzle: you’re not sure which patient will benefit most from which drug.

A team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) tackled this puzzle.

They looked at how patients’ genetic makeup could influence their response to two commonly used diabetes drugs: metformin and glipizide. They published their findings in a medical journal called Diabetologia.

The Problem: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The current treatments available for type 2 diabetes do not consider an individual’s unique genetic makeup. This makes it difficult to develop personalized treatments.

Dr. Josephine Li, an endocrinologist at MGH, and her team wanted to understand how a patient’s genes might influence how well they respond to metformin and glipizide.

The Experiment: Studying Genes and Drug Response

To figure this out, Dr. Li and her team collected genetic data from 1,000 people who were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

These individuals were given a short course of metformin and glipizide. The team then tracked how their blood sugar and insulin levels changed after taking these drugs.

The study was unique because more than a third of the participants were not of European descent, which is often the case in genetic studies.

What They Found: Genetic Clues to Drug Response

The results of the study were intriguing! They found five genetic variants (differences in DNA sequence) that were significantly associated with how people responded to the two drugs.

Three of these genetic variants were more common in participants of African ancestry.

One of these genetic variants, named rs111770298, was confirmed in a separate study called the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Individuals with this variant experienced a weaker response to metformin treatment than those without it.

In another part of the study, a different genetic variant (named rs703972), which is known to protect against type 2 diabetes, was linked with higher levels of a hormone that stimulates insulin production and reduces appetite.

The Conclusion: Personalizing Diabetes Treatment

Dr. Li concluded that understanding the impact of these genetic variants can help guide and personalize treatment selection in the future.

She added that the next steps include conducting further experiments to confirm the implications of these new genetic variants on how the body responds to glucose-lowering therapies.

The team made their findings available to the public to encourage other researchers to add to their work.

The Takeaway: Genetics May Hold the Key

The results of this study offer exciting possibilities for personalized medicine. It shows that understanding a person’s genetic makeup can help doctors predict how well they might respond to certain medications.

Remember, every person is unique, and this includes our genes! So, personalized treatments based on our genetic makeup could be the future of medicine.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that flaxseed oil is more beneficial than fish oil to people with diabetes, and Stanford study finds drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing new bandage for foot ulcers in people with diabetes.

The study was published in Diabetologia.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.