Developers, geneticists brainstorm diabetes therapies

What do you get when you mix 20 drug developers active in the diabetes field with a room full of geneticists? Hopefully, a new generation of therapies that pinpoint subsets of the disease, each with its own unique genetic thumbprint.

There are 21 million Americans alone who suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But any clinician will tell you that cases are often remarkably dissimilar. And new research indicates that a person's genetic profile has a lot to do with their disease. MODY, for example, involves six different genetic subtypes that account for two percent of all cases. So far 16 genes have been linked to type 2 and 14 genes have been associated with type 1. Genetics expert Francis Collins like to highlight one gene that is responsible for getting zinc to insulin-producing cells--a prime drug target in diabetes.

Merck's Eric Shadt, meanwhile, says he believes several genes work together as a kind of master switch. One set of obesity genes may work in tandem, offering a red flag in the obese to identify likely diabetics.

- check out the AP report