A new gene variant associated with risk of type 1 diabetes is reported in a study to be published in the June issue of Nature Genetics. The gene, IFIH1, encodes a protein involved in the immune response to viral infection. This is one of only a few genes reported to be associated with risk of type 1 diabetes that has been validated in a large number of individuals from more than one population.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune system inappropriately attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. John Todd and colleagues show that a relatively common variant of IFIH1 is associated with susceptibility to the disease in a large sampling of individuals from the general population, as well as in families affected by the disease from several countries. This is the first genetic evidence in humans in support of the idea that one of the causes of the disease might involve an aberrant response to a virus.
John Todd (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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