Individuals with Type 2 diabetes are insulin resistance, which means that the body does not use insulin properly. Patients with type 2 diabetes can now be grouped into five clusters based on their genetic variations to specify the treatment for each individual. In a recent study performed at Massachusetts General Hospital, an endocrinologist named Jose Florez and his associates discovered five clusters from known diabetes risk loci and related traits. Jose Florez and his associates used soft clusters in the study because they take into account the fact that one genetic variation may impact more than one trait and it provides a more broad framework.
The five clusters identified included two marked by mechanism of pancreatic beta cell dysfunction and three by mechanisms of insulin resistance. The five clusters were proinsulin, beta cell, obesity, lipodystrophy, and the liver/lipid cluster. For example, the obesity cluster was associated with an increased BMI, waist circumference, and body fat percentage and it included the obesity-linked FTO and MC4R loci. The findings obtained from the study was backed up by data from the US National Institutes of Health’s Roadmap Epigenomics Project. The genetically determined clusters can help patients with specific disease characteristics. The next step in the study is to determine how the clusters can make a difference in the prognosis of diseases and the response to treatments for affected individuals.
I found this article interesting because Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90-95 percent of all diabetes cases in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30.3 million Americans have diabetes. If the study advances, individuals with type 2 diabetes will have a more specific treatment plan based on which type of diabetes they fit in instead of having a trial and error medication plan.