October 3, 2005

Indians more prone to diabetes

Non-Performing Gene In Bloodstream Is Playing The Villain, Says Study

By Kounteya Sinha/TNN

New Delhi: In a major scientific breakthrough, a research project led by a Chennai-based diabetologist has found that the non-performance of a particular gene in the blood of most Indians is making them more prone to diabetes. The gene — PPARGamma — is known to protect people of most races from diabetes.
   According to the group of 85 researchers, led by Chennai-based diabetologist Prof V Mohan in project funded by the department of biotechnology, this single factor is making Indians more prone to diabetes. India is home to around 40 million diabetics, the highest number in any one country. Nearly 12-16% of India’s urban population is diabetic.
   Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was informed of this finding on Monday while DBT was told a week ago. The two-year study, conducted simultaneously on a white population in Dallas and on Indians in Chennai zeroed in on the PPAR-Gamma gene, after systematically studying 30 other gene types.
   Dr Mohan announced this discovery at the Nobel Forum in Sweden and at the European Association of Study of Diabetes conference in Athens last week.
   The research team is now working to trace the main cause behind PPAR-Gamma gene’s malfunction and whether gene therapy can be developed to make the PPAR-Gamma gene protect Indians from diabetes.
   Speaking to TOI, Dr Mohan said “PPAR-Gamma gene is known to protect the body from diabetes. But in Indians, it is not functioning. We have also found that Indians have an increased genetic susceptibility to diabetes and greater degree of insulin resistance compared to Europeans. They also have greater fat deposits in the intra-abdominal area which contributes to the risk of diabetes. Our next phase of research is focusing on the main cause behind PPAR-Gamma genes’ non-functioning and whether there are more genes in Indians that are not protecting the body.”
   Meanwhile, Dr Mohan’s team along with the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation has also devised the New Indian Diabetes Risk Score (IRDS) that will help people self-assess their risk of becoming diabetic without a blood test. All they have to do is answer three questions and take their waist measurement.
   Dr Mohan said “Nearly 66% people are unaware that they are diabetic, exposing them to heart and kidney disease, blindness and amputations. However it is impossible to screen everyone for diabetes in a big country like India. This means that for screening to be cost effective, high-risk individuals must be identified for screening. This is where a RDS becomes necessary.”
   He added: “IDRS has been devised after four years of research and random tests on 26,000 people. It is a simple two-minute process. The four simple questions are: What is your age? Do you have a family history of diabetes? Do you exercise regularly? How physically demanding is your work? Those men with waist measurement below 90 cm and women below 80 cm are at minimum risk. This risk score is available online at www.mvdsc.org. An IDRS score of 60 and above will identify over 70% of undiagnosed diabetic subjects in the country. The usefulness of this IDRS is that it is simple, low cost and easily applicable for mass screening programmes. Those with both parents diabetic are at high risk while people above the age of 40 are more prone to diabetes.”
   Recent WHO report shows that India has nearly 19% of the world’s diabetic population, which is nearly 40 million. The number is are expected to escalate to an alarming 80 million by the year 2030, posing an unexpected health and economic threat to India.


No comments: