University of Cambridge Logo A latest research has unveiled four rare mutations in the IFIH1 gene. It has been found that people carrying any of these genes have a decreased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. A link has been administered between type 1 diabetes and enterovirus, which is a non-symptomatic virus that enters through the gastrointestinal tract. This research was conducted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory.

The IFIH1 gene is a common gene found in everyone. This gene, which plays a role in the antiviral response of the body, is also present in the area of the human genome that is linked with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder which results in the body attacking its own insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

Senior researcher, Professor John Todd, states that, “We have been able to pin-point one particular gene among a long list of candidates. Now we and others can begin to study the biology of IFIH1 in the context of type 1 diabetes knowing that it is part of the cause of the disease.”

Through various earlier studies, scientists have gained an insight into the genes in the human genome which predispose human beings to various diseases. However, due to the presence of innumerable genes with varying functions, the scientists were not very clear as to which gene or gene variant led to the development of the disease. To overcome this obstacle the present research started looking for variants that had obvious biological effects. Thus they could zero in on various rare variants linked with type 1 diabetes.

Co-researcher, Dr. Sergey Nejentsev, Royal Society Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, says that, “Finding several new rare disease variants with clear biological functions was crucial. Not only has this proved that IFIH1 is involved in type 1 diabetes, it also gave us clues to understand the mechanism.”

The researchers scanned the whole genomes of around 30,000 people including type 1 diabetics, family members or controls. Their results revealed and proved that the four specified variants in the IFIH1 gene reduced the chance of developing type 1 diabetes in an individual.

Their findings reveal that re-sequencing genes that are connected with diseases could be of assistance in identifying the gene or genes that are responsible for the development of a disease.

Their findings are published in the Science journal.