Gene screens 'no better' than BP for type-2 diabetes

Genetic screening is no better than assessing traditional risk factors for predicting type-2 diabetes, say US researchers.

The findings suggest that GPs should continue to stick with measuring blood pressure (BP), weight and glucose levels at least until additional risk genes for diabetes are discovered.

Previous studies have so far identified 18 gene variants that appear to increase the risk of type-2 diabetes.

For this latest study, the researchers investigated the effectiveness of genetic screening compared with traditional screening.

Genotyping for the 18 genetic variants was performed on blood samples taken from 2,377 participants, aged 28-62, who did not have diabetes.

Each participant was assigned a genotype score, based on the number of risk-associated gene copies inherited.

The scores were then compared with traditional risk factors for diabetes such as BP, BMI, glucose levels and family history.

Overall, 255 cases of diabetes were identified during the follow-up period of 28 years.

The average genotype score was 17.7 among participants who developed diabetes and 17.1 among those who did not develop diabetes.

The researchers concluded that the ability of the genotype score to discriminate those who did not have diabetes with those who did was not significantly better than traditional risk factors.

NEJM 2008; 359:2208-2219

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