Scientists ID molecule that could predict Type 2 diabetes

Scientists from King's College London have identified a molecule that could help predict Type 2 diabetes and identify diabetics that are most vulnerable to heart and circulatory disease.

The study, led by Dr. Manuel Mayr, senior lecturer in the cardiovascular division and British Heart Foundation senior research fellow, is the first to analyze the 'fingerprint' of microRNAs, small molecules that affect the activity of suites of genes, in people with Type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that the level of one particular microRNA, MiR-126, was significantly reduced in the blood of people with the disease compared with those without, and in some people this drop in MiR-126 preceded the onset of disease.

MicroRNAs were measured in more than 800 participants at five year intervals from 1990 to 2005. Taking blood plasma samples and using real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and microarray screening, the researchers identified 700 microRNAs.

"This is important because right now there is no quick and simple way to monitor blood vessel health. Problems go unnoticed until symptoms appear, and the first symptom could be as serious as a heart attack," says Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the BHF.

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