New studies by an international team of scientists led by Joslin Diabetes Center have found variations in a gene that help explain why people with type 2 diabetes are at much greater risk for coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death for this group.
"We now have potential gene markers to help identify diabetes patients at increased risk for heart disease," said Alessandro Doria, M.D., Ph.D., Investigator in Joslins Genetics and Epidemiology research section, Director of Joslins Genetics Core and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "This knowledge could potentially lead to drugs or other methods that affect this pathway, reducing risk of heart attack and stroke in these patients."
An estimated 18 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have cardiovascular disease, and are at increased risk for stroke, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage.
In a two-part study published in the Oct. 1 edition of the British journal Human Molecular Genetics, Dr. Doria and his colleagues at Joslin and other research centers in the Northeast and researchers in Italy focused on a gene governing a protein called CD36. This protein is found in the membrane of several types of cells, including the walls of blood vessels.
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