Updated on 16 July 2013
Patients with type 2 diabetics are more prone to blood cancers due to genetic defects called clonal mosaic events (CMEs)
Singapore: Scientists from Imperial College London, UK, and National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France, have discovered a DNA flaw that may explain why people with type 2 diabetes are more prone to blood cancers. The study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Researchers analyzed blood samples from nearly 7,500 people, including 2,200 patients with type 2 diabetes and have found that the answer lies in cellular mutations called clonal mosaic events (CMEs), which are defects that result in some cells having extra copies or, alternatively, missing copies of large stretches of genetic code.
CMEs are usually very rare in young people but become more common with aging. Among people aged over 70, around two percent have these mutations, which gives them a tenfold higher risk of developing blood cancer, previous research has found. But among people with type 2 diabetes, CMEs were four times more common than otherwise healthy people, the new study found. They also had a far higher rate of kidney failure, eye disease or heart disease.
Dr Philippe Froguel, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, who led the study, said that, "Type 2 diabetes is a disease that accelerates aging, so we wondered if it would make people more likely to have these genetic defects that are associated with aging. This finding may partly explain why people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to get blood cancers. These patients would be followed up closely to watch for early signs of leukemia and could start having mild chemotherapy."
Dr Froguel said that, in the future, a genetic test could help identify patients with type 2 diabetes who are likelier to develop CMEs.