Indian scientists find neurological link to Type 2 diabetes

New Delhi: Is diabetes a disease connected to the brain?

A team of Indian scientists have discovered a neurological link to Type 2 diabetes (T2D), a finding that could open new pathways for treatment of the ailment, traditionally linked to rise in level of blood sugar.

In doing so, 37 scientists led by Dwaipayan Bhardwaj of CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integretive Biology (IGIB) and Nikhil Tandon of AIIMS also achieved a first of sorts when the research team studied two ethnic populations including Indo-Europeans and Dravidians to understand more about diabetes.

"We have identified a new locus associated with T2D ... The genes TMEM163, RAB3GAP1 and ACMSDI... Are involved in neurologic processes, suggesting a neurologic component in the etiology of T2D," said the scientists reporting their findings in `Diabetes` journal of the American Diabetes Association.

"This is also the first and the largest `Genome Wide Association Study` (GWAS) conducted for any complex disorder conceived and executed entirely in the developing world," Samir K Brahmachari, Director General of the Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) told reporters here.

The study has identified a new dimension to T2D and could open up new pathways for better understanding of the complex ailment.

"The finding could also lead to new line of targeted therauptics," Tandon said.

"This study shall go a long way in furthering the aims and objectives of INDICO consortium as well as untangling the intricacies involved in this complex disorder," Bharadwaj said.

Further work on functionally validating this genomic discovery has already been initiated by Bharadwaj`s group, at the well-established facility at CSIR-IGIB through the development of zebra fish models.

The INDICO consortium attracts countrywide participation spanning Delhi, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Chennai, involving premier research institutes and stalwarts of diabetes research like Tandon.

Since Indians are not only genetically diverse but also have an exceptionally high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, the consortium provides researchers a unique and unparalleled opportunity to investigate the complex dimensions of diabetes genetics.

The work involved 12,535 Indians, with an initial phase involving 2,465 subjects, type 2 Diabetes patients and matched individuals in the research, followed by validation in two ethnic populations of India including Indo-Europeans and Dravidians, and a comprehensive meta-analysis comparing the studies.