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Using advanced technology, the common yet numerous clinical complications of diabetes – problems in the foot, the eyes, the kidneys, and the heart and blood vessels, among others – will be better understood.

Diabetes is a common disease. And beyond its prevalence, its complications add to its complexity. From people having their foot amputated, to those who became blind; from patients undergoing dialysis, to those who had heart attacks of stroke – these horror medical stories are real. The medical cost of diabetes is expensive; and the loss of lives, enormous.

Modern studies found that proneness to this medical condition is significantly determined by intrinsic factors. As the genetic determinants of diabetes are being uncovered, the issue on the determinants of its complications is becoming interesting.

Why should one be interested in the molecular players of the complications of diabetes?

Most of the answers to this question are theoretical. However, they are of potentially immense importance. In essence, the mantra of “knowing is half the battle” applies. One, by knowing the set of genes tuned on or off during the complications, one can use these as indicators or predictors of the complications. Second, pathways can be deduced. These deduced pathways can be markers by themselves, and they can also be targets for drugs or other interventions, especially if they are causative. Third, the markers can be used for testing and monitoring for responses to treatment. The progress of complications is not static – they are not present or absent. Rather they are dynamic. They can progress rapidly or slowly. They can be reversible or not. They can be manifesting or latent.

Using an advanced technology in investigating the changes and intricate interactions of about 23,000 genes and their variant, this study from investigators from the University of the Philippines Manila is the most comprehensive molecular study on diabetes to date. With a lot of confidence, and a bit of luck, the complications of diabetes will be better understood, with hopes that clinical applications will follow next.


Written by:Jose V. Nevado, M.D.
University of the Philippines Los Banos

Published by:
Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII)