Diabetes & Genes


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Genes are regions of DNA that act as blue prints for the body to manufacture and produce different proteins that fulfil different functions within each cell. Genes have been found to be linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes which begin to explain why diabetes runs in families (although environmental factors are also known to play a role) as genes are passed from parents to their children. The best studied genes that have been found to play a role in diabetes are the HLA (human leukocyte antigen) gene and the insulin gene. Dysfunctional insulin genes have been found in a number of type I diabetics who are unable to produce any insulin from birth because the blue print for the manufacture of the proteins required to produce insulin were faulty, so ineffective insulin producing cells were developed. Dysfunctional HLA genes in diabetics were found to have a blue print that caused the body to produce a white blood cell (part of the immune system) that attacked the insulin producing β cells and therefore stopped the body from being able to produce insulin. In addition it is thought that people who have certain genes are at a higher risk of developing type II diabetes (which occurs when your body become desensitized to the insulin that it produces. For example, if you have a fault in the gene that has the blue print for the protein that acts to transport insulin around the body you may have a higher risk of developing type II diabetes. 


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