Scientists have identified a rare gene mutation that prevents Type 2 diabetes, the New York Times reported.
In a study of 150,000 people, researchers identified a mutation that destroys a gene used by pancreas cells – where insulin is made. People with the mutation were found to produce slightly higher levels of insulin and have slightly lower blood glucose levels for life.
As a result, that the mutation reduces diabetes risk by two-thirds – even among people who are overweight.
The results, published in Nature Genetics, are a first for diabetes research, as they show a benefit of a mutation that destroys a gene.
Researchers hope they may someday be able to develop a drug that mimics the mutation, offering protection against diabetes. However, Pfizer, which helped finance the study, cautions that bringing a new drug to market can take 10 to 20 years.
Scientists say these results are surprising and a powerful step for drug development.
“The study is a tour de force, and the authors are the top people in the field,” Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the center for human nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told The New York Times.