A GENETIC BASIS FOR TYPE 1 DIABETESResearchers have taken a giant step in identifying geneticmechanisms underlying Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes.

Linda S. Wicker from Merck & Co. Inc. and her British andFrench colleagues used mice that spontaneously develop Type1-like diabetes to find two additional genes that impartsusceptibility to the disease.

The genes, called Idd-3 and Idd-4, are located on mousechromosomes 3 and 11, respectively. They are not related to apreviously identified diabetes-susceptibility gene, Idd-1. Idd-1 is located on mouse chromosome 17 in the immunoregulatoryMHC locus.

Type 1 diabetes affects about three-tenths of 1 percent ofpeople of European descent. It is an autoimmune diseaseleading to blindness, kidney failure and reduced lifeexpectancy, even in patients who take insulin.

The team, reporting today in Nature, proposes that knowing thelocation of Idd-3 and Idd-4 on mouse chromosomes will allowresearchers to target specific human chromosomes to identifysimilar genes. Idd-1's equivalent is on human chromosome 6amid the human equivalent of the MHC. The team proposes thathuman Idd-3 may reside on either chromosome 1 or 4, whereashuman Idd-4 may reside on chromosome 17. -- Carol TalkingtonVerser, Ph.D.

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