biomarker found

A new biomarker for type 2 diabetes has been identified by Spanish researchers.

A study team at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), Barcelona, believes this new biomarker could be used to more effectively identify people at risk of type 2 diabetes, and lead to improved diabetes therapies.

This biomarker is the TXNIP gene. The researchers observed that methylation of the gene – a process that modifies DNA and changes the gene’s structure – is associated with type 2 diabetes.

They studied methylation in the blood samples of 355 participants, comparing samples of people with diabetes to people without diabetes. In both groups, the TXNIP gene was not methylated, which was particularly the case for people with poorly controlled blood glucose levels.

The researchers explained that genetics share the same DNA throughout life and cannot be changed. However, “epigenetics, and methylation in this case, the best studied epigenetic mechanism, is dynamic and adjusts according to our lifestyle. It is a mechanism that can be associated with risk modulation in diverse pathologies, including diabetes.”

Next, the researchers replicated their study twice. First, they tested a group of 167 patients and then in a group of 645. Each study confirmed the relationship between TXNIP methylation and type 2 diabetes.

“The methylation of this gene could be used as an early biomarker of dysfunction in the control of glucose levels,” the researchers wrote.

“We are currently studying the implications and specific role of this gene in diabetes. In the future it could provide a possible therapeutic target for treating diabetes or controlling glucose concentrations.”

The study was published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.