• Study signals possibilities for Personalised Diabetes Therapies
    Dr Adem Dawed

News & Views

Study signals possibilities for Personalised Diabetes Therapies

Feb 16 2023

Having found that the effectiveness of some common type 2 diabetes medications may depend upon an individual’s genetic make-up, researchers at the University of  Dundee’s School of Medicine have identified two genes that could impact upon how GLP-1 receptor agonists - medication used to treat the condition - work.

“Type 2 diabetes is one of the most pressing health issues faced by modern society,” said Dr Adem Dawed, an expert in Population Health and Genomics. “Finding how a person’s body responds to medication is incredibly important, and this study has given us an important insight as to how GLP-1 receptor agonists – one of the main treatments of type 2 diabetes – can vary in efficacy. We have identified 5% of the population who could benefit the most from early treatment with GLP-1 receptor agonists based on their genetics.”

More than 4.7 million people in the UK were reported to live with diabetes, with figures having trebled since 1996. Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form and can be affected by lifestyle habits such as weight gain when the body might not respond properly to insulin and its regulation of blood sugar levels.

Complications arising from diabetes can include life threatening heart and kidney disease and it is also the biggest cause of blindness and amputation in the UK.

For those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 receptor agonists are often used to lower blood sugar levels and assist with weight loss, while protecting a patient’s heart. However, the efficacy of these treatments can vary considerably between individuals.

"These findings have important implications for the future of diabetes treatment," added Professor Ewan Pearson, from Dundee’s School of Medicine.

"While more research is needed, we believe that this study represents an important step towards personalised treatment for individuals with type 2 diabetes."

The Dundee study is the first large-scale candidate-based and genome-wide analysis of its kind to determine how genetics can impact of the effectiveness of GLP-1 agonists, with researchers analysing results from 4571 adults.

Published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Innovative Medicines Initiative.

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