Unraveling the Causes of Diabetes

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Science  26 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5568, pp. 686-689
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5568.686

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The development of type II diabetes (formerly known as maturity-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) is influenced both by environment--particularly by such lifestyle factors as smoking, diet, and exercise level--and by genetics--specifically the combined effects of what may be subtle alterations in several genes. Diabetes researchers have turned up several candidate susceptibility genes, most of which are involved in either the production of insulin or the body's responses to it. The challenge now facing researchers is to sort out the contribution of each factor and then use that knowledge to design badly needed therapeutics.