In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers have pinpointed numerous links between specific metabolic changes and genetic variants. The study sheds new light on the relationships between risk factors and development of complex common diseases.
The study was conducted by Professor Karsten Suhre and Dr. Christian Gieger of Helmholtz Zentrum München, in collaboration with colleagues from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK and King’s College London under the leadership of Nicole Soranzoby.
Researchers discovered accurate associations with complex common diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus by identifying 37 previously unknown genetic risk loci and clarifying their effect on human metabolism. This study was conducted by scientists in order to gain a detailed approach into the disease etiology. In the study, the scientists present the most comprehensive evaluation of genetic variance in human metabolism so far, combining genome-wide association studies * (GWAS) with metabolomics*. 60 disease-relevant metabolic pathways were used to analyze more than 250 metabolites.
Suhre and Gieger said, “The advantage of our study design is that we studied genetic variance in its biological context – and thus identified previously unknown risk loci.” Scientists were able to assess the biological effect of the identified genetic risk loci by combining genetics with metabolomics, a method that has provided promising results in two previous studies, while this cannot be accomplished in stand-alone GWAS.
Since every human being is unique, the risks of developing complex common diseases in the future can be envisaged by taking a closer look at the individual’s metabolites. The two scientists said, “We have made considerable advances in understanding complex diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. The findings of the study will lead to new approaches for pharmaceutical research.”
Helmholtz Zentrum München aims at developing new targets for diagnosis, therapy, and prevention by better understanding the etiology of complex common diseases (Helmholtz Zentrum).