The results of this observational study mean that people with Type 2 diabetes taking sulphonylureas, who have the gene variants may be less likely to develop devastating diabetes complications such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
The research, carried out by the Diabetes Research Group at the Biomedical Research Institute at the University of Dundee, looked at 1,073 people with Type 2 diabetes from Tayside, Scotland, who had been treated with sulphonylureas for up to 18 months.
The study found that the 6 people in every 100 with two variants of the gene CYP2C9 were 3.4 times more likely to achieve their blood glucose target of less than 7 per cent compared to people who did not have those variants.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: ‘This research is important because it demonstrates the effect that genetic variations could have in determining treatments for people with Type 2 diabetes.’
‘The CYP2C9 gene produces an enzyme which breaks down sulphonylureas in the liver. In people with variations in this gene the enzyme is less active, which could explain their improved response to sulphonylureas.’
‘This study adds to the pharmacogenetic field of research which may in time lead to better tailored prescriptions for people with Type 2 diabetes so that treatment is optimised in light of a person’s genetic make-up. This could in turn eventually lead to a reduction in the amount of money that is spent on ineffective diabetes drug treatments by the NHS.’
There are 2.25 million people with Type 2 diabetes in the UK and approximately 550,000 of them will take a sulphonylurea as a treatment. Diabetes UK recommends that people with diabetes aim to reach a blood glucose target of under 6.5 per cent or under 7.5 per cent if they are at risk of severe hypos. However, targets vary according to individual needs.
Dr Ewan Pearson, who led the study, said: ‘Variants in the CYP2C9 gene have been known to effect blood levels of the sulphonylurea drugs for many years, but this is the first time that anyone has shown that this impacts on response to diabetes drugs. This is the first study to show such a large effect of an individual’s genes on response to diabetes drugs used in Type 2 diabetes and is a significant step on the path towards being able to use genetics to personalise medicine for those with Type 2 diabetes.’
To find out if you are at risk of diabetes visit www.diabetes.org.uk/.
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Notes to editors:
- Diabetes UK is the leading charity for the three million people in the UK with diabetes. It is our 75th Anniversary in 2009 and events to mark this special occasion will be taking place around the country. We aim to spend more than more than £6.5 million on research in 2009 as well as campaigning and providing information and support. During our 75th Anniversary year, we hope you will be able to join in and support us so that we can carry on improving the lives of people with diabetes into the future. For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk/.
- The University of Dundee is internationally recognised for excellence in life sciences and medical research with particular expertise in cancer, diabetes and tropical diseases. The University has both a 5* rated medical school and College of Life Sciences, with research expanding from ‘the cell to the clinic to the community’. See www.dundee.ac.uk for further details.
- In the UK, there are currently 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes and it is estimated that up to half a million people have the condition but do not know it.
- The Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes. The line is a low cost number and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm (operates a translation service). Recorded information on a number of diabetes-related topics is also available on this number 24 hours a day.
- Supporting our work to fund vital research into the care, treatment and hopefully a cure for diabetes as a Diabetes UK Supporting Member entitles you to a range of benefits including our bi-monthly magazine Balance, reliable information booklets on diabetes, our confidential Diabetes UK Careline, over 400 local Diabetes UK support groups, and access to an exclusive personalised Supporting Members Area on our website.
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